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.

 

I’m supposed to be on strike

Seriously. Don’t y’all know I’m trying to binge watch “continuum”?

All jokes and binges aside…

Lately, there have been entirely too many days when I’m the only one out here to deal with the minutiae. Mr B travels a lot, buying shit and going to seminars about intentional communities and such. Sunshine has been working a lot to pay for the construction of our house, and much of that work is out of town. It was exceedingly pleasant to take a break from it all and go on our whirlwind road trip last week.

side note: I’m not saying that Mr B’s purchases and seminars have no value to the community; nor am I saying that Sunshine’s work is not necessary and helpful to our home building goal. I’m just saying that these things keep dragging them away from things that need to happen here in this community they’re trying to build. Isn’t it ironic, doncha think?

When I got back from our trip, I resolved to be kinder to my body. See, even though I was stuck in a fucking car for a large portion of our roadtrip, I could feel the pains lessening in my back and hip. So I resolved to do less so that I could finish healing.

Then along came the urgent need to plant the sprouts in the garden. Sunshine’s employee is here for some work, and he is always willing to help with things around here in addition to the masonry work he does with Sunshine. Except when he’s sickish, like he was yesterday when it came time to plant things. Which meant that I had to get up off the couch and go help; otherwise, it would have taken Sunshine and Mr B several days of working at it in the evenings. As soon as we were done for the day, I stood up to head inside and realized that I had just undone several weeks of healing in my back and hip.

side note: we’re completely skipping over the fact that crawling around on my hands and knees in a dry and dusty garden did absolutely NO FAVORS for my COPD and allergies and that I’m in desperate need of cough syrup and steroid nose spray this morning.

This morning, Sunshine is at work again. Mr B is off to almost Mexico with his tractor in tow. The compost bucket was full to overflowing and desperately needed to be dumped in the compost heap. Since there was nobody else here to do it, of course my dumb ass picked it up and headed to dump it.

Once again, the fucking chickens had scattered the compost heap to the four corners of the earth. It was less compost heap and more vegetable carpet for that corner of the property. Naturally, I started scraping it back up into a heap, because it needs to be in a moist heap to decompose into something that can be used to fertilize a garden. As I scraped that shit back into a heap, I got to thinking; as I got to thinking, I got disgusted.

side note: the chickens came pecking around while I was scraping that shit back into a pile. I stopped scraping so I could throw sticks and hickory nuts at them. I don’t feel bad about it at all. I should probably call my sponsor or something.

When I came back up the hill to the magic bus, I hid the compost bucket. Until somebody does something about the compost heap so that the fucking chickens can’t scatter it to the four corners of the earth, there is no point in trying to compost anything. All food waste now goes in the trash.

side note: I’m sure that this situation will cause complications that will cause some sort of mandate to be issued, and I don’t fucking care. If I don’t have help, I can’t do this shit anymore. I’m sick of the day-to-day minutiae being unimportant and left undone while Sunshine and Mr B do all their “big picture” thinking and planning and ignoring things like the yardwork (which Sunshine did all summer last year and Mr B has done this year with those tree branches he knocked down everywhere weeks ago and has yet to pick up).

So, this morning, with new pains piled on top of old pains in my back and hip, and knowledge of an extended day of work in my future on Friday, I am serious about going on strike out here. We are headed into spring pollen season (and storm season), and my COPD is always so extra this time of year. I will barely have the spoons to take care of what needs to be done inside my home, so anything outside my home has to be stricken from the priority list.

12 step recovery taught me to guard my spiritual, mental, and emotional health. It taught me to guard it like it is more precious than the contents of Fort Knox. It’s long past time I started doing the same for my physical health.

So, I am seriously on strike. When anybody comes at me wondering about the compost bucket, they’ll get told what you’re getting told. Trying to compost our food waste is a total waste of time and energy out here until somebody does something about the compost heap so that it remains a compost heap instead of a vegetable carpet. As for the cats, well, if they get fed then it won’t be by me; those little bastards are supposed to be eating mice and shit anyway, right? The paper we’ve been saving to make logs for the wood stove? Not getting saved and stored by me anymore since we are running out of room and nobody seems interested in making logs out of it anyway. The weedeating around the RV and the pink house? I am not the one. If one of those two lets the chickens out in the morning and forgets to lock them back in the chicken house at night, then the coyotes are gonna have themselves a feast because I’m not trekking down there in the dark to lock the chicken house.

I am done wasting my time and energy on trying to do shit that nobody else seems to care about. I’m going to concentrate on doing shit that I enjoy, and if that means shopping for shoes then I’ll just take on as many hours as I can at work so I can shop for fucking shoes.

final note: I’m sitting here crying. Not a bad or sad cry. Just a gratitude cry. I’m so damn grateful for my girl Tia right now that I have no words to express it. She has been trying to teach me that if I don’t take care of my physical health, nobody else will do it for me. Well, Tia, I’m finally honestly trying to heed your warning. Thank you for being my teacher and my friend.

Nazca Lines

I wish I had an airplane so I could get an overhead view of the scope of the mess we have on our hands here.

I’ll start with a quick explanation of why we have so much of the property dug up at the moment.

french-drain-hose-does-not-work-for-field-lines

Yeah, that would be a section of french drain hose. That french drain hose is what was originally used (NOT by us; rather, by whatever idiot thought that was a good idea at some unspecified point in the past) to make the leach lines or lateral lines or field lines or whatever they’re called for the septic system here. French drain hose does not make an adequate field line. The entirety of it had been compromised; in some spots, it was so bad that there was always standing water above the breaks. Even worse, the entirety of the field line system was french drain hose. About 3′ of pvc pipe extending directly from the septic tank was all that was NOT french drain. Who even does that shit?

While Mr B was digging up all of that nonsense, he decided that now was the perfect time to dig up every project we had put on the to-do list for the entire year. Which led to about 2316844321 miles of trenches being dug on the property.

We added a water line to the garden

 

 

We added the water line for our little house

12-february-newest-waterline-trench

We had to replace all the field lines for the septic system

view-from-the-burn-pile

This pond will be getting filled in at some point, probably starting with a lot of the clay we dug up.

the-front-pond

 

Like, the new driveway is ruined in so many spots. Also? The gravel from these ruined spots got used for filling in under all those pipes we put in the ground.

that-massive-driveway-is-ruined

we moved dirt from near our little house site to shore up the berms around the tornado shelter

 

it’s a giant mess for sure

Like, I can’t even begin to explain adequately just how much shit got dug up this past weekend. I also can’t even begin to guess how long it will be before mother nature works her magic and covers these scars up with something green that will require a lawnmower, which is probably a good thing considering last year’s struggles with the out-of-control lawn. At least Mr B has been a busy little bee and immediately got on the task of using his giant orange toy to start pushing dirt back in all those fucking trenches. Most of them have been covered back up; the rest will be covered ASAP (just as soon as the rain ends).

Somebody please come save us from ourselves. Please?

Finished Projects

I’m pretty sure we haven’t actually finished anything we started this weekend.

We got the electric cable run from the future meter location to the future breaker panel location. I can’t call the task completed yet because we still need to add the upright portions of the conduit and we need to tape off the ends before this rain shows up tomorrow. Sunshine is supposed to be grabbing the pieces-parts he needs on his way home from work. The trench is partially filled in; Mr B will complete that part of it when he gets around to it with his big orange tractor that specializes in moving dirt around.

12-february-electric-line-is-in

side note: I got to be a stagehand for about an hour. It made me remember why I had to quit. I can still do it, and I can still do it well; I just can’t do it fast anymore.

We have a functional septic system again even though it isn’t buried yet. Mr B has to go get some pea-gravel and put it in the trenches before he can put the dirt in there. He actually did the final digging on these trenches last night. I woke up to even more mess than was out there when I went to bed Saturday night. Look to the left, you can see it.

12-february-a-bigger-mess

 

side note: in typical Mr B fashion, he has changed the game plan halfway through the play in progress. He is now going to take a lot of that ridiculous, stupid, horrible, no good clay that came out of those trenches and use it to start filling in the front pond. We have only seen it full for a very short time after all those rain bombs last year and we don’t like the idea of all the snakes that hang around water. Also? Mosquitos.

First thing yesterday morning, Sunshine dug up the trench for our water line that will service our little house. If you look off to the left here, you can kind of see the mess Mr B made after dark last night. Just to the right of the chicken house you can see the trench for the water line to our house.

12-february-newest-waterline-trench

 

side note: I would give anything to see this place from a plane right about now. I would imagine it looks like some crop circles or Nazca lines or some shit.

We also have run a water line up to the front fence line to make it easier to water the garden in the future. We’ve gotten the pipes in the trenches for the water lines, but we won’t be connecting them until we have time to chase down any leaks there may be.

I’m just glad that the weekend is over and we can flush the toilet as many times as we want without fear of raw sewage leaking all over the yard around the deck of the pink house.

Now, my ass is off to make a meeting. My body is achy, which means I really need to feed my spirit.

final note: I’ll grab some more pictures of the mess today and share them with you tomorrow.