Saturday, January 20, 2007

What's Going On Around Here

Well, winter seems finally to have arrived. We're expecting below 0 temps tonight, for the first time this year. And things seem to be getting back to normal - which is nice.

Eric started his new semester this past week, which was, oddly enough, kind of a relief for me. I love having him home, but this winter break wasn't quite like most of the past ones - his being home meant that I could (and should) work on the book more or less full time. And so most days, I'd disappear into the computer room and Eric would take the kids. And...I hated it. I didn't like sitting in front of the computer all the time, what Eric Brende calls "the voluntary quadrapalegia of contemporary life" - it made me stiff and achy. I didn't like being away from my kids so much - or the way Asher would sob when I passed him to Daddy (something that never bothered him before) or how Isaiah would ask me very solemnly if I would come with him places. And I didn't like all the other things that didn't get done. I don't think I'm meant to be a full time writer. So even though the kids have colds and were cranky, I was actually very happy to get back to my normal, less productive but more fun, life.

All of this is part of a set of anxieties I have about the book. Other people, I'm told, have fear of failure. I tend towards fear of success. I've gotten a lot of offers to come speak since the Community Solutions Conference, and so far, I've turned them all down - I enjoy speaking, but I don't want to leave my family more than very occasionally, and I don't want to fly for environmental reasons. Unfortunately, if the book is published and successful, I probably won't have the luxury of saying "no." I worry that if I do write a good book, the job of promoting it, speaking and writing about what I've done will overtake my life. I don't want to be a hypocrite, telling people how to live a life I am not presently living. I don't mind making recommendations and detailing my flaws, but if I get on an airplane and fly about the country instead of planting corn, or hire someone to clean my toilets so that I can write about how necessary it is we do it ourselves, I'll look like a flaming asshole, and I don't want to be one. Not to mention the fact that I don't *want* to be apart from my family. We've very carefully arranged our lives so that we have a lot of time together - we don't always have a lot of money, but for us, time to be together is worth more than cash. I'm a domestic creature to a large degree - that's why it is so easy for me to focus in on food and shelter and clothing - because those basic things engage me more than many abstractions.

So there's a part of me that hopes the book isn't a success. That part is overridden by the part of me (known as my ego, and just slightly smaller India ;-), that hopes we're a howling success, that Oprah wants to add the first peak oil book to her book club and that Dick Cheney will read it and say, "Oh, of course, we should have been conserving, not invading. Damn. Why didn't I think of that? Maybe I'll plant some peas on the White House lawn now." So we've got what some folks might call a certain level of ambivalence here. But I'm not complaining too much that I've got more domestic work and a little less time to write.

In other news, Asher, at 14 1/2 months is going for the record as our latest walker. He has been taking steps occasionally for a month now, but I don't think it has ever occurred to him to use it as a mode of locomotion. Like his brother Isaiah, he's learned to locomote while carrying things, which sort of obviates the largest incentive to walk. But we're anticipating any time now.

Our non-electric kitchen renovation proceeds apace. We've painted, are putting in the new sink (the hand pump and cistern will have to wait until the ground melts in spring), having new shelving put in, and my Waterford Stanley cookstove arrived this week, right after our ice storm, causing a major degree of unhappiness in the two gentlemen whose job it was to get the 700lb cast iron stove up the ice covered driveway and into the house. No major injuries were caused, fortunately. If I can figure out how, I'll try and post before and after photos once the work is finally done.

And finally, seed starting and seed ordering are beginning. I'll start leeks, pansies, onions, scallions, some kale and bok choy, parsley for pesach, some very early sweet peas (for pots) and the stuff that has to stratified this coming week. Because I grow so much stuff and order too many seeds every year, I've picked up a trick to organize what has to be done. Every year, afte the first of the year, when calendars are really cheap, I buy one (this year, I didn't - I'm using a homemade one), and then I count backwards from my last frost date, and on the first couple of days of the week, list what seeds to start. Then, on the later part of the week, I list the ones I actually got to - which makes it easy to slide things over to the next week. I then put each week's seed packets in a plastic bin or tin (coffee cans are good). I keep seperate tins for "start inside" and start outside. It helps me keep track, because often I have to start things several times during the season (first and second plantings of things like broccoli and lettuce, for example). I also write in everything to be planted in or out during the whole season, ending with spinach that I start inside (to keep it cooler) at the end of August for winter. I'm also trying to note temperatures, how much rain and snow we get, what birds we're seeing, etc... Climate change is obviously changing things, and it is helpful to keep records of how our local systems seem to be arranging themselves.

I think that's about all the news from our place. Anyone else got anything exciting going on?



Tom Reichel said...

Thanks for sharing here... on newsgroups and in your forthcoming book. Your posts, insights, anxieties, honesty, are appreciated by all of us in our transistions to a sustainable, community and family-centered life.
I think the strengths of your forthcoming book with Aaron will be sufficient... and promotion and speaking engagements will be minimal or unnecessary.
Enjoy your family, seed starting, and your new Waterford Stanley... You'll continue to figure out what makes sense.

All the best,

SE Michigan

RAS said...

I started grad school last week, and it is all ready trying to overrun my life, lol. That's about all the exicting news here. Oh yeah -and I have broccoli seedling that will be ready to go in the garden in less than a month. Woot!

Eileen said...

Two thoughts on the book tour:

I know Al Gore flies a lot--and the thing that kills me on all those footprint calculators is my air travel for work--so it has to be an issue. But it is for the greater good. Scholars with their knowledge have traveled for centuries to spread the word. Sometimes it has to be done.

On the other hand, it could be great press to be the first non-travel book tour! The technology exists for web conferencing and seminars. These could be set up in bookstores.

One of my favorite books I ever read I saw on BookTV, it was a taped session in some Borders somewhere--didn't really matter where the author was, she was so passionate and informative I had to buy the book!

greenhillfarm said...

I'd be more than happy to go with you on your book tour my kids are all grown up :. We can go by train.
Your take on the PO situation: food,hearth and home are why imo your writings are the best, most sensible and frankly more constructive. I've had about enough curves and costs per barrel :).
Got to sit down and get my Fedco order in so I can plant the early stuff in Feb. Maybe the weather will cooperate and we'll tap this year (none last year).
Went to Nofa conference today and even attended a PO class with Dh. Glad dh went. I know he believes it but he doesn't seem stressed enough :).

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have recently discovered your blog -- we find your posts helpful and interesting.
I'd love to hear more about your experiences with the cookstove and the hand pump, as we are making similar plans. Is the firebox on the Stanley big enough? how do you plan to keep your pump and cistern from freezing?
Thanks for sharing your observations and experiences!

Jana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jana said...

Oh to have spell check...

I like the idea about the dedicated garden calendar. I always get mixed up and think all is lost and give up on the succession plantings. I am not doing the indoor starts this year, I have a reliable nursery and will get the tomato and broccoli starts there.

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