About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Realizing Dad was right

Back in my old life, I had the persistent, nagging feeling of not being able to keep up with my own life. For the first year or so after moving, that feeling left me, but it's back. When I think about it, it's been back since the installation of the new heating (that link gives the most recent post first. Scroll down if you want to read the whole saga).

That project nearly killed me, and it isn't finished yet. After the ridiculously intensive work of replacing all the floors in the house and the joy of finally having our new heating installed and working, we still had the job of insulating under the floors. Since the heating was connected up from below, the insulation had to be added after that, and from below. I really struggled with that job (I'll tell you about it someday) and when I got back from helping Dad with his house in Cornwall, I just couldn't face it any more. It still isn't finished.

As well as the insulation, I still have the solar panels to do before the heating project's finished. These have been hanging over me, making me feel guilty about doing other things. We've also had crazy/miserable weather this year (I expect you have, too) which has made gardening less attractive, so I've been feeling guilty about not doing that as well. The end result is that I sit around feeling guilty and don't get anything done.

I've always found to-do lists oppressive, with the items I haven't crossed off hanging around for months and making me feel guilty. Since I'm already feeling so guilty, and with so many things filling my head, I felt the need to write it all down, if only to show Ian why I'm feeling so stressed. I did this last week and now I'm going to show you as well.
  1. String up peas
  2. sow more peas, and beans, and replacement carrots, and fennel, and broccoli
  3. plant out French beans
  4. pot on tomatoes
  5. clear ash out of tapped bucket (missing trowel) and start making comfrey tea
  6. improve slug defences for brassicas and strawberries
  7. inspect and register septic tank
  8. unblock kitchen drain
  9. arrange book club meeting (choose book)
  10. finish camera bag (find suitable washers)
  11. seal bathroom floor
  12. paint kitchen cupboard doors
  13. add decoration to kitchen cupboards
  14. clear, level and lay kitchen floor
  15. ditto hall floor (edging strips)
  16. brick arch over fireplace (get more bricks)
  17. strip rest of wallpaper
  18. plaster around fireplace
  19. remove radiator
  20. paint sitting room walls
  21. empty room, lift carpet, sand and polish floor
  22. clean up beam
  23. make and install solar panels
  24. finish insulation and ceiling in store room
  25. loft insulation
  26. rig up doorbell
  27. put cupboards/shelves in store room
  28. renovate boots
  29. harvest oak leaves; make cordial and wine (get more buckets)
  30. ditto elderflowers
  31. sorrel cordial?
  32. pull up rest of horsetail for plant food/blight treatment
  33. paint dresser
  34. finish making laundry basket
  35. mend laundry bag
  36. mend trousers and skirts (mine and Ian’s)
  37. make new woodstore roof
  38. weave bench seat from leylandii offcuts
  39. treat wooden chairs for outdoor use
  40. put extra shelf in airing cupboard
  41. finish plastic bag sandals
  42. take lavender cuttings
  43. replace tent poles
  44. clear out fridge
  45. book musician for September
  46. ?confirm booking for October (enquire about other buildings)
  47. book musician for November
  48. rewrite music website in nice tidy code
  49. tidy up archive
  50. publicity for July music
  51. collect wild garlic seeds when ready and sow
  52. ditto pak choi, cabbage, probably onion and parsnip too
  53. write blog posts
  54. find out about greenhouse for sale; ?dismantle, move and assemble
  55. make press for sawdust briquettes
  56. make solar dehydrator
  57. get sawdust; make briquettes
  58. fix spare room skirting boards
  59. bedroom ceiling
  60. fix cornices
  61. paint wardrobe
  62. fix wardrobe
  63. strip/paint bedroom walls
  64. fix kitchen cupboard door
  65. learn Welsh
  66. plan and prepare dinner EVERY DAY
  67. WASH UP!
The immediate result of me writing the list was my own reaction: I can't do all that! This is what Dad said to me last year when I was worrying about the garden: You don't have to do everything all at once. He was right, of course.

I have decided to give myself a break over the garden. The weather's lousy this year and the slugs are rampant, so maybe I should just accept that this is going to be a bad year for gardening. Then I can stop worrying about it and focus on the house instead. In terms of saving money, getting the solar panels and insulation done will probably be worth more than growing veggies, anyway.

Having decided not to worry about the garden, I then found it a lot easier to focus on other jobs (helped by Ian's desire to get those jobs done). The kitchen is looking a lot better than in was when I wrote that list, even though I didn't quite manage to get the floor laid before the in-laws came to visit.

6 comments:

  1. That's just how I feel.

    I reduced my hours at work partly to get some of those jobs done, but a combination of being an A1 procrastinator, Parkinson's Law, having a family who cannot finish a single. blooming.task., day to day life and, as you said, miserable weather means I've got up this morning and thought, "What have I been doing?" I've been busy, but doing what?

    |And I certainly haven't attempted projects on the scale of yours; I've been really impressed by what you've taken on.

    I was getting very frustrated that we'd got past the new floor/new heating system stage in our house but there were still so many (mostly small) jobs that needed doing.
    I followed a suggestion I found online and made a list (I actually quite like lists) of what needed doing room by room. It could be something big and expensive or touching up some paint. Anything that I knew I wanted to do at some point in the future.
    I now know what I want to save up for (new dresser in the kitchen) and have made a conscious effort to paint that last bit of skirting board/hang a picture/paint the utility room/insulate the loft hatch. All those things that I'd look at and add to my mental list.
    I have to admit having stalled a bit at the moment, but I got a good chunk done.

    Now I just need to get my mojo back...

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  2. I am also a chronic listmaker. When things are going well it helps me organise things, when things are overwhelming me it contributes to that. I suggest you go through your List of Doom and cross off everything that's not absolutely essential.
    The tone of your post sonds exactly like me when I'm about to start screaming! I'm glad you've decided to leave the garden for now - a garden should be enjoyable - it doesn't deserve to turn into a hateful chore!

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  3. I can relate... oh BOY can I relate. I've still got a big pile of repairs from the hail storm last summer... painting, and replacing screens, and lights, and don't even get me started on the garden, and all the things that were on the list BEFORE the hail struck.

    But in a funny way the hailstorm sort of gave me a bit of an attitude adjustment. I mean it totally wiped out the whole garden - but somehow I still managed to end up with enough harvest that I've got several gallons of marinara sauce in the freezer and about 5 or 6 gallons of pureed pumpkin that I'd better use soon before the new harvest arrives!

    This year's garden is shaping up to be pretty awful because of the heat and the drought, well, that along with the invasion of every conceivable insect on the planet - but somehow it doesn't seem like such a big deal to me anymore. I'll harvest whatever I get, and whatever it is will be a gift.

    I've pretty much stopped making lists too, because it only makes me feel stressed out. I dunno, maybe the combination of the hail and the watching all of the news coverage of the hundreds of houses that have burned to the ground has given me a new perspective on the temporary nature of things.

    I'm getting the critical stuff done, and beyond that I'm just doing whatever I feel inspired about at the moment - the garage isn't gonna fall down if it goes a few more months without getting painted.

    I guess I just figure that I've got plenty to eat and a roof over my head - so everything else is gravy. At this point it just seems vastly more important to enjoy what I've got while I've got it, than it is to fret over the never ending "to do" list.

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  4. Phew! Bloody hell, reading that list makes me feel exhausted too!

    I just wanted to offer some consolation - I am not 'doing' the garden this year. I have given up - I just cannot keep on top of it when I only have weekends to look after it, and almost every single weekend since May has been a washout. I can't even get out to mow the frigging lawn, so I can't even see the veggie beds...the weeds have won this year and I haven't grown ANYTHING. I have let everything I planted before the rain came, to just fester - I felt really bad harvesting broad beans the other day from a patch which was so overgrown I got stung by nettles really badly picking them. The tomatoes have withered and died in their pots, the sweetcorn seedlings have gone on the compost heap. I just cannot bear the guilt of doing it badly, so I am not doing it at all this year. Neither is my neighbour, who has the same problems with the weather and no time.

    Do yourself a favour - order a weekly veg box and give yourself a break for this year - you really aren't the only one :-)

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  5. Thank you so much for your comments, all of you. It makes me feel a lot better to share this and know that I'm not alone.

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  6. Rachel, if it makes you feel any better I have totally given up on my vegetable garden this year too, just got some beans, toms and potatoes in pots under the porch. I decided early on this year that I just couldn't do everything and the house is more important at the moment - I am soooooooo glad I made that decision because I'm pretty sure everything would have succumbed to slugs/rabbits/rot/blight etc with all the awful weather we have had. Good luck with your list, just keep on keeping on. (Susiegee)

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