How did I get here?

Have you ever watched those HGTV and/or DIY shows where a couple builds or remodels a house? I’m not talking about any one show in particular; because ultimately they’re interchangeable.  Boy meets girl; they plan a house; she (or he, depending on which one is the bigger asshole control freak) starts nitpicking and changing things, causing change orders, overages, and delays.

While often entertaining to watch, those nitpickers are a nightmare for the general contractor and all the subcontractors/skilled tradespersons. Sunshine has dealt with many of those nitpickers in his career as a Mason, and he’s figured out the best way to deal with the nitpicking change order junkies is to repeatedly demonstrate that there are consequences to all the changes and nitpicking: every time the nitpickers come at him with a change or addition, a change order form gets filled out and a 25% deposit is required on the spot. Generally, it works.

Side note: sunshine HATES those HGTV and DIY shows. He says they’ve spoiled homeowners  to the point where they expect their contractor/tradesperson to hold their hand, present them with a set number of options, and explain the pros and cons of each option. He is not amused.

Tuesday,  I did a walk-through, looking over the progress that had been made while I was traveling. Overall, I was impressed at first glance. The blue glass has been set into the wall between the bathroom and bedroom, the exterior walls are almost finished…it’s starting to look like something.

Then I started walking through rooms, and ended in the bathroom. Which is where shit started to go awry. Sunshine had made the shower too narrow, and I wasn’t having it. I moved the wall. Which totally negated all the special work he had commissioned for the bathroom window frame. I feel bad; however, now is absolutely the right time to be widening the shower–before waterproofing membrane and tile are installed and fixtures are in place.

I added a cabinet/shelf in the bathroom,  a tiny broom closet between the studs of the wall, an in-wall fold-down ironing board, and a pot filler over the stove.

Of course, most of that changed again as I walked through the house with the electrical engineer. So did a lot of my lighting choices, because I got talked into ceiling fans.

Side note: I do NOT want ceiling fans. I can’t find any ceiling fan lighting kits that I like, and can only find ceiling fans that I can sort-of tolerate. I’ve also nixed some of my light fixtures because of the additional pieces pieces-parts that I don’t want to have to figure out how to hide.

I’m sitting here this morning, wondering how in the hell I got here. How in the hell did I become the nitpicker who changes everything every time she walks through the building with a tradesperson? I don’t like me right now, yet I refuse to compromise on some of this shit because I have to live with it for the rest of my life. Hopefully, I don’t drive Sunshine too crazy before it’s all over.

Final note: they have already nicknamed me “change order”

Waiting game

Some time ago, when the garden was in full swing, producing lots of food, Mr B asked when he would be able to plow it all under so he could level the area to prevent standing water. I told him that December & January  would be perfect,  since nothing would be growing, producing, or planted during that time.

Side note: we’re ignoring the fact that the garden only held water because Mr B extended the distance between rows and therefore had to extend the length of the rows which led to the garden covering a low spot that held water which means that now Mr B is having to solve a problem that he created that isn’t going to be a problem in the future since the garden won’t be extending through that low spot anymore… when you’re a carpenter with a hammer, all problems look like nails to you. Mr B is a Tasmanian devil with a fleet of tractors so all problems look like dirt that needs to be moved. I digress…

By the end of July, the entire garden full of plants that were producing food had been destroyed so he could move dirt. He then made some rows and commenced working on something else. 

So here I sit today, staring at rows made by Mr B that he says need to be tilled.

I’m not sure why I need all these tilled rows, since we are doing are significant portion of this fall garden with the four sisters. The four sisters (corn, squash, beans, and Rocky Mountain bee flower) get planted in mounds that are 2′ in diameter and 18″ tall.

It’s like he can’t stand NOT micro-managing every aspect of all the things. All. The. Things. It would be endearing if it didn’t cause so much chaos. It would be cute if it didn’t mean that projects that he doesn’t prioritize get left undone. It would be funny if it weren’t so frustrating. I digress.

Ultimately,  I wind up in a place where Sunshine is actually ready and willing to help me with gardening,  and we’re on hold because a carpenter with a hammer sees only nails.

Final note: this afternoon,  my garden is being planted, whether Mr B has moved to dirt he thinks need to be moved or hasn’t gotten to it.

It’s Monday

It’s Monday, which is normally my Saturday.

I know, it makes no sense.

I normally work on Fridays and Sundays, which makes Friday my Monday and Sunday my Friday, and Mondays are usually my Saturdays. However, I worked every day this past weekend, and I’m working this morning. I don’t know what day it is supposed to be for me.

I’m tired. I slept the sleep of the dead last night, and I’m still tired this morning.

I’m supposed to be learning to can jam today or tomorrow, and I don’t know if I have it in me. I have too many other things on the list, and I only have so many spoons. I am going to have to prioritize, which is easier said than done. I need to flash freeze some backdoor fruit, but I have no room in the freezers. If I made jam out of the blackberries, I’d have room in the freezer. I have a garden that I need to walk through and harvest what’s ready, but I have no room in my fridge because there’s too much backdoor fruit and squash from the neighbors in there. Even if I did have the spoons, I don’t know where I would even start.

side note: making jam would be the obvious choice. It would free up a lot of freezer space and get these cases of canning jars out of my way inside my house. Then I could flash freeze all this shit in my fridge. After that I could harvest stuff from my garden, at which point I’d have to start the cycle all over again.

I’m starting to talk in circles, aren’t I?

Let’s start a new circle, shall we?

Household chores. Thank heaven I cleaned this place within an inch of its life last week. It means I can hit the high spots this week and pray that next weekend doesn’t turn out like this past one so that I can get some rest and be ready for my own life next week instead of having to be the only adult at the produce stand. Laundry is so backed up it’s scary, and I actually managed to get a load done over the course of the last three days. Now I just have to fold it before I head to work this morning. Sunshine just brought me over a gallon of hydrogen peroxide leftovers that he bought for a job cleaning some mildew stains off of some very light colored stone columns; I’m not sure what the fuck I’m going to do with that shit but I am sure that we shouldn’t have to buy peroxide for the next millennium.

I’ve got to squeeze in an appointment with my primary soon, too. I still haven’t gotten a call from the mental health provider to get me started there, so I’m relying on my primary to keep me in meds until I can get in at mental health.

I’m completely ignoring the elephant in the middle of our house build site. I just can’t think about that today. I’ll worry about that tomorrow; after all, tomorrow is another day.

Three Hours

Somewhere along the way, Sunshine and Mr B got it into their heads that the goal for us all was to have a three hour workday.

As nice as it sounds, I don’t know that it’s a very attainable goal. There’s no way I could consider myself having a three hour workday, even if we took all the hours I worked in the last year and divided it by 365 (and this isn’t even taking into consideration the hours I worked at an actual job in the last year).

Today alone, I have:

  • spent two hours picking blackberries
  • spent around an hour in the garden harvesting squash and turnips
  • spent another hour and a half (and still counting) blanching and freezing squash
  • spent a bit of time freezing blackberries

Still on the agenda for today:

  • go back and help Sunshine and Biff pick the other half of the blackberry patch
  • clean up the mess I made blanching and freezing
  • finish freezing blackberries and squash
  • water the garden and the compost heap
  • empty the compost bucket into the compost heap
  • help cook dinner
  • and whatever else Sunshine comes up with to do

Now, during the winter (late December through early February), there might be some days that are delightfully idle, but I don’t know that they’ll make up for the activity packed days that go on from late February through almost Christmas.

I don’t know where Sunshine gets his ideas, but I think I’d rather not smoke whatever he was smoking when he came up with that three hour workday shit, because that’s just delusional.

final note: what’s the difference between illusions and delusions? Illusions are the ways I try to fool you. Delusions are the ways I try to fool myself.

It’s that time of year

It’s starting to get really hot here in Texas. The temperatures aren’t that bad, high 80s to mid 90s, but when the humidity is factored in….

It exhausts me.

Well, that’s not true.

I am exhausted by all of the labor. I’ve picked blackberries until I look like I fought in the zombie apocalypse. I have preserved those blackberries, all by myself. I have preserved cauliflower, broccoli, green onions, and squashes…mostly alone. I have planted parts of the garden alone. I have sliced and chopped fruit and dehydrated it…mostly alone. I also work my ass off at my job on Fridays and Sundays. That alone is enough to exhaust me. My COPD means that I have no stamina.

To do all of that shit in heat and humidity, with a chronic and progressive lung condition…and to do so much of it alone?

I’m tired. I’m tired on so many levels. My body aches, my mind is functioning slowly, and my spirit is sagging.

It’s that time of year.

I need a nap.

The more things change…

…the more they stay the same.

Last year, around this time, Sunshine was working on the pink house and on various jobs back in Shreveport. I was left here alone to struggle with the mouse problem, the out-of-control grass, wanting a garden, and anything else that came up that required physical labor. We were also dealing with the beginnings of Sunshine’s treatment protocol that left him so fatigued that he could barely function. I spent last summer exhausted and feeling quite alone.

We have added more people out here, and lots has changed around me. There is a garden, and chickens, and cats; and we’re building a little house. A driveway has been put in that circles round the pink house and heads down toward the barn; we also have an underground storm shelter and a safe room standing in the center of our future little house.

In spite of all of the changes, so much remains the same. Sunshine is out of town working rather frequently, we have no lawn mower, and I am the only one here to deal with shit on far too many occasions.

Monday, I spent hours cutting and drying what we call “back door fruit”. Back door fruit is the fruit from my work that isn’t pretty, and can’t be sold to customers because everybody wants the perfectly shaped and perfectly colored apple.

side note: they also don’t understand why big-box-grocer fruits don’t have any taste yet the fruits at my work taste so good. It doesn’t matter how many times I explain all the reasons the fruit my boss gets is so good, they still don’t want the brown pear or the almost mushy blackberries.

My boss and I understand that the ugliest piece of fruit in the basket is most likely the tastiest, but most of the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way. I spent yesterday morning getting the dehydrated fruit put into seal-a-meal bags. I did it alone, even though everybody here will want to eat the dried fruit.

I spent hours cutting fruit, lining dehydrator trays, and stuffing the dehydrator full of fruit to dehydrate so that we could have fruit during the winter when it is harder to come by and more expensive at any place that sells fruit. Mr B popped in for a few minutes Monday morning, and he showed me a more efficient way to cut the fruits, and that helped immensely; however, for most of the day I worked in solitude. I spent hours pulling fruit out and sealing it up yesterday morning. Mr B did drop in and help pull some fruit out of the dehydrator, but he poked as much of it in his wordhole as he did into the bowl I was collecting it in.

side note: I can’t blame him, the fruit was tasty and I’m pretty sure he had just gotten up to start his day and was therefore hungry.

That alone shit happens a lot here lately. Sunshine and Biff are working to pay for our little house build, and they aren’t here to help most days. I get it, we need cash to avoid a mortgage. Mr B is generally doing what it is that Mr B does best, which would be attempting to follow all the paths at the exact same time. And moving dirt. Mr B excels at moving dirt. Mrs B is off the property during the week, and when she’s here, she’s busy doing whatever it is she does when she isn’t working her full time job, something to do with a life coaching business.

Which leaves me to plant things in the garden, and harvest things in the garden, and preserve things that are harvested from the garden, and work at my job, and keep my house clean (which is quickly losing its place at the top of my priority list while I harvest and preserve food)…

I need help. And I’m not likely to receive it any time soon. Well, at least not in any significant doses. The grass needs to be cut, and somebody needs to run a weedeater. We need to build a containment solution for a new compost heap so that we can put the most recent organic material in there so that this compost heap can process into actual compost. Our little house needs to be finished. There are beans and peas that need to be planted, and we need to start thinking ahead to our fall garden; specifically, we need to plan where to put it since Mr B plans to move dirt in the current garden’s location after the current crops run their course.

side note: told you, Mr B moves a lot of dirt.

I could go on listing things that need to be done, but I think you get the point. There’s so much shit to be done, and so few people to do it, that I probably won’t get much help with the harvesting and blanching and freezing and berry picking and freezing and fruit sorting and dehydrating and …….

It isn’t just the lack of help. I am starting to really notice the absence of human companionship almost as much as I am noticing the lack of help with the workload.