Archive for December 13th, 2010

Anyway Project – Update 1

Sharon December 13th, 2010

Just a note: Eric stepped on the overpriced device that allows us to have a slow and primitive but still wireless connection out here in middle-of-nowhere-land this morning. It is still working, miraculously (it doesn’t look like it should be working), but I expect to lose internet access basically at any moment. So if this blog disappears, it isn’t that I don’t care, it is that my husband is a klutz. Since I’m a much bigger klutz, and have broken even more important things over the years, I can’t really whine about it. But just FYI, I’m not sure how much internet access I’ll have until replacement device is procured.

The larger idea of the Anyway Project is to make our lives work more smoothly. Most of us stand with feet in several worlds – our domestic and professional ones, our adaptations to a world with less and our day to day life in a world with too much (in some cases). Making the intersections between these spaces functional, bringing the edges together and connecting them smoothly is the center of my project, and in that regard, I feel like the last month has been a slow beginning. I spent a lot of the last month wrapping up chaos already in progress, but now I am hopeful that the winter will allow some sustained progress.

The six weeks between late October and mid-December are hectic ones – I travelled twice, once by myself, once as a family, and soloed with the farm while Eric and the boys went to visit Grandma. We had three birthdays complete with visting family, parties, etc… Halloween, Thanksgiving and Chanukah, hosted more than 20 guests for stays varying from 1 day to a full week, I wound up my fall teaching and Eric hit the end of his term, with all the grading and etc… Starting the project November 1 was probably doomed to msotly being a wrap up, but I came in with ambitions, some of which were even accomplished.

My overarching goals are these:

1. Use what we have better. I find that often we’re so focused on the next project that we don’t necessarily get a firm grip on the current one. There are a host of small things awaiting my time and attention that would simply make life a lot happier if they got that time.

2. Make use more adaptable to the way our present crisis is actually occurring – we have reason to worry about Eric losing his job or being furloughed, and I don’t want to have to worry about it, so we need to cut our expenses. I need to bring the farm back into profitability and find a better balance between writing and agriculture, one that serves our household optimally, since there are only so many hours in the day.

3. Make the pace of our life a bit more relaxing. I’m about to go on a three-day-per-week writing schedule so I can concentrate on other things, and am taking a couple of months off from teaching.

4. Spend more time directly with people – both local folks and in-person teaching. I love the connections I get to make with people I would never have met but for the internet, but I feel like that comes at the cost, sometimes, of time spent with the people who are nearby! I’d like to do more of my teaching here, as well.

So how are we doing on this? Well, as I said, November was a bit hectic, so I didn’t complete everything I’d like to do. I’ll post both my November results and my plans for December here:

Domestic Infrastructure:

November: I got the food storage moved out of the closet and am almost finished setting it up in the guest room. It doesn’t look too bad, either. I didn’t get to the office, and the firewood is not all stacked, so that’s only 1 out of 3 – and I’m not totally done with 1.

December: Ok, stack the firewood, get the door on my future office and move in to the office. Go through the house room by room and begin cleaning out and de-cluttering. Also, do my big annual spice order – I’m out of way too many things. Given that I only have two weeks left in the month, that’s probably as much as I can accomplish.

Household Economy

November/December: We’ve been tracking expenses, but November was an atypical month, with some big projects, so I want to continue this through December, and see how much we can cut (we’re probably the only people on the planet who spend *less* in December than the rest of the year ;-) ). I have a budget set, but I have some ideas that I could cut even further, but I want to watch how this actually works for a month or two.

Resource Consumption

November: We have continued to cut our electrical usage back as intended, although our gas mileage went up because of a long planned annual visit to my Moms. We used wood extremely conservatively and have turned on the furnace only when we were away (just enough to keep the pipes from freezing) and when we had guests sleeping in the cold bedrooms. Generally, despite the early December cold spell, we’re further ahead than we usually are at this season in heating fuel.

December: Time to compensate for that trip and all the fall travel by staying home and enjoying the winter peaceful season. I expect electrical use to decline as well, as I try to stick to my new work schedule, writing only three days a week.

Cottage Industry and Subsistence:

November: This one was a total failure. I got none of my November goals done – I started the farm year plan, but failed to get my seeds for stratification in, started but didn’t finish my tax research (the boring ones are tougher ;-) ), and didn’t find out about my kitchen certification either. Bad, bad blogiste!

December: Exactly the same list as last month, plus some other business details. Blah. This is my punishment for not doing stuff ;-) . I also need to make up the farm and garden calendar, which at least is kind of fun, and order bottles for product sales. On the fun end, we also need to order our seeds, fruit trees and beekeeping equipment. Woot!

Family and Community

November: We committed to trying to do two outside events every month and work generally on strengthening community ties. We actually did this, but most of it was due to the many, many guests who visited and to previously planned events. Now I’ve actually got to do it purposefully.

December: I’m planning two fun things for the next month – first, a neighborhood open-house for New Years, and second, a winter apprentice weekend. Last year, we had 10 people come to my house for a weekend of goat milking, talking, eating, knitting, and learning about everything from woodstove cooking and maintenence to herb gardening and plant uses. I’m plotting another weekend for mid-January – I’ll announce it this week. I really love being able to meet internet folks in person!

Also on my agenda in the “family” department, Eric and I have been talking for years about the possibility of adopting more children through social services, and we’ve decided to go forward at least as far as the class and possibly the homestudy (on the theory that my house might never be clean enough to pass a homestudy again ;-) ) over the next few months. Scheduling the time commitment and childcare will be challenging, but we want to do this. I’m not sure what the longer term outcome will be, but both of us are thinking that our family might not be complete.

Outside Work:

November: I failed miserably at reducing my work schedule – but I’m ready to start again.

December: Trying that three day per week thing again. Must. Make. Workload. Fit.

Time and Happiness:

I didn’t really set goals for this in the past month, just assumed they would be a natural outcome of getting things under control. They are, I suspect, but I’d also like to make more time for music at home. So more regular music practice and singing time with the kids and husband is on my weekly agenda.

Ok, so how did you do?

Sharon