Tidying for the Apocalypse

Sharon October 11th, 2008

Americans awakened yesterday morning with a unified, heartrending cry.  It was “where the heck is Namibia, and how can I get my money in their banks!”  The combination of American lack of geographical knowledge and the revelation that their banking system was considered less secure than that of 39 other countries, not excluding Namibia.

Meanwhile, more people are getting turned off by their electric and gas companies, job losses are up if you don’t count Texas, and Dow has lost 40% of its value over a year – much of it in the last month.  Meanwhile, my blog has been strangely quiet about all of this. 

What am I doing in this moment of crisis?  Am I working to protect my assets by transferring them to Namibian banks?  Building local food systems?  Nope.  The last few days have been taken over by four projects (besides Yom Kippur).

The first two were the long planned butchering of our meat birds for sale, and the purchase and barning of our winter’s hay and bedding.   Then there was the purchase of more firewood, its delivery and beginning the stacking and moving process of all our wood under cover.   The last, and really traumatic project was the sudden discovery that the New York Times wanted to send a photographer to my house.

 Now you may have noticed that this blog doesn’t have pictures on it.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, while I recently did acquire a digital camera, uploading pictures on my dial up takes forever, and it isn’t something I have a lot of time to do.  The second reason I don’t take a lot of pictures of my farm is that it is very much a working place, without a lot of attention to aesthetics.  In fact, whenever I do interviews, and someone asks me how I get it all done, the standard answer is “I don’t do much housework.”

So let’s just say that having a New York Times photographer (from the Sunday Styles section, no less) at my house left me two choices.  1. Burn down the house and start again. 2. Ignore every project I have (many) and spend all days not devoted to Shabbos, Yom Kippur, butchering, barning or stacking (not many) frantically cleaning my house. 

During the period when I was walking around hyperventilating and going “Oh (insert fairly uncreative swearing here)!” my step-mother suggested I should get one of those cleaning services that comes in after there’s been a flood, fire or bombing, but they weren’t available.

Meanwhile, we’ve also got guests for the weekend, so the six children in the house (four of mine, two of an old friend’s) are busily taking the house apart as fast as I can clean it.  Oh, and did I mention that it is a mistake to buy chrysanthemums to make your steps look pretty and then leave them right next to the goat pen, where an extremely creative goat can get her lips through to rip them apart?  I guess my walkway won’t be laden with seasonal flowers.

The photographer wants to take pictures of all the cute, funky things we do, including seeing me cook on a woodstove.  Which will be lovely, and a waste of carbon,  since I think it is supposed to be 70 tomorrow when they come.  Oh, and as I explain the way we rely primarily on local food, I’ll be sending the kids out in the yard to eat pizza from the local take-out place (and while I haven’t enquired, I’m fairly sure they don’t use local flours and homemade mozzarella) so as to keep my house pristine (or as pristine as it is going to get).  Strange how showing people how we don’t use energy doesn’t seem to be saving me any!

The good news is that if they can take suitable pictures, y’all might get to see the farm, and dressed up for company in the Sunday New York Times.  The bad news is that I may need a week in bed, heavily sedated (is Gin officially a sedative?) to recover from the trauma.

After that, I should probably move all our assets to Namibia, but I’m not sure what the most efficient way to transfer our hard asssets – ie, goats, gin, hay and firewood – overseas is.

 Cheers, and back soon,


55 Responses to “Tidying for the Apocalypse”

  1. Kate says:

    Sharon, did it appear in the paper?

    If not, don’t take it personally. Recently, I heard a NYT photographer (someone did a short documentary on the photographer!) explain that he can take 600 photographs, narrow it down to 20 to send in to the paper, and find that none of them get in. He said the stories can end up going in different directions.

  2. Sharon says:

    Thanks so much for the encouragement, everyone. I really appreciate it. The photo shoot went really well, actually, although the days leading up were very stressful. Fortunately, kind college friends of mine who had planned to come out for the weekend and for Sukkot were not intimidated by the fact that we were planning to use them as slave labor for a few days, and helped a lot.

    I don’t yet know when the story is going to run, but I’m told it definitely will run. I don’t know which, if any, photos they’ll use, but I can hope.

    You know, I don’t have the slightest qualms about appearing in the Sunday Styles section – I really appreciate the thought that I’m my work is too important for that ;-) , but I honestly think it is important that people see the aestheticized version of this – because a lot of people need that to come to the point of really being willing to change their lives. They look at a low energy life as deprived, sad, cold, scary and dark – they need to see it as beautiful, artful and enjoyable. I don’t know how well I can do that, but I’m trying, and I think the idea that the life is valuable because of the art does matter. So I’m happy to be in Sunday styles.


  3. MEA says:

    You need the “House and Garden” approached as explained by Flanders and Swann. YOu have one house you live in and one next door that you let the photographers in .

  4. Monkeyfister says:

    OMG, Sharon!

    I am suddenly feeling a LOT better now.

    I’ve got my cupboards full to the point that I have to tie one door shut, The Summer garden is winding down, and the Winter veggies are planted, but, yeah– the house is one pile of “organized” clutter after the next right now.

    I’m just a single guy, buy I work nine hours a day, while trying to care for my couple of acres, harvesting, canning, freezing, drying, and now that the seasons are opening– hunting. Clean, or process this harvest?

    When one lives alone, one must make those decisions, and no– my t-shirts don’t need pressed. Food comes first.

    I thought I was being a bad, bad lazymon.

    There really are only so many hours in a day, and I’m out to feed myself and others, not impress thaem with my household skillz.



  5. DEE says:

    never use this small typeprint again….are you trying to blind me??????????? DEE

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