Wednesday, August 31, 2016


    I stood under my Apple Ent and watched the storm come blowing in across the fields. The smell of rain was heavy in the air. The wind brought in a temperature drop. I knew the rain was coming so had been out working to clear up the detritus of my current projects. Power tools needed to be stashed safely, hand tools brought in and hung on appropriate hooks. I raked up as much of the paint chips as was humanly possible, bagging them and handfuls of earth, rocks, and leaves along with the paint.
    I stood watching the storm come, protected by my eldest apple tree. I watched, with my dogs hovering near to hand, until fat drops of rain made little dust spurts in the plowed field to the south of me. It got so dark it felt like a solar eclipse. Too dark for a late summer afternoon. Too chilly for an August day.
    But we need the rain. I hope it rains hard enough to wash the dust of summer off of my world. My property has the look of a fallout zone, coated in grey and brown dust from the plowing and dusting of lime that has been going on in the fields around me. One of the few curses of living in farmland. I spent part of my morning washing my backyard, rinsing away the heavy layer of grey that had dimmed my world to the spectrum of a black and white photograph. One amusing aspect of the recent dusting is how it has made spider webs stand out in stark contrast. It is a good thing I am not an arachnophobe or I might pack up and move at the sight of the thousands of webs covering nearly everything. I did have to rehome a number of spiders while scraping and sanding the house. The little fellas really like lurking under the lap siding. I made sure they were safely moved into my over-zealous camelia bushes.
    The rain may have been a false start. A bit of premature ejaculate. Big fat drops leading to not much of anything. Could very well be a metaphor for life if I want to get philosophical, Instead I think I will take this opportunity to bake some bread and do some long overdue housework since my time of late has been taken up with outside tasks that are far more entertaining and  satisfying than sweeping up dog hair. Or I might pour myself a cup of coffee and look over the sketches and measurements for phase 3 of the cedar deck, and ponder the construction and framing. Or, I could make a cup of double bergamot Earl Grey and do nothing. Nah, life is too short to sit and do nothing, Bread baking it is. Might as well take advantage of a cool, dark day, though there will be more than enough such days in a few short weeks. But I think I will make that cup of Earl Grey.

Too Much To Do

    Summer always seems to flash past in a blur of activity. Some years I am racing every other weekend, some years I am working like a fool to improve my little piece of property. The last two years have been of the home improvement type. I know it isn't as exciting as the racing summers, but they are very satisfying. I have been working like a fiend. Putting in an 8 hour day at my job, then racing home and working until sunset on my little hermitage. It is wearing me out.
    The last few weeks I have been feeling that oppressive presence that heralds the coming of the dark, cold days of Winter. I know I still have a month or two of decent weather as we head into Autumn, but the feeling is still there. It is a demon that rides my shoulder, whispering, "I am coming." Every year I feel it and every year I try to get my life in order so I can face it down with power.
    This year I have taken on a few monumental projects that will be a challenge to finish up. Paint the house, rebuild the deck, build a greenhouse, finish the last bits of The Fort, build a small tool shed. The deck is nearly done, but the last section is waiting on me getting that dorner of the house painted before final assembly. The house painting is a labor of love. Serious labor. Scrape, sand, prime, scrape and sand some more, prime some more, paint. I have the back half about 80% done, but haven't even started on the front yet. Today, it is cool and damp so painting will have to wait. I am almost thankful that the weather changed, giving me a break from scraping paint in the hot sun. But it is good weather for deck building, so I tell myself.
    What I really want to do today is stay inside and watch the grey clouds slip past, and the cool wind play with the trees. But life is too short for such indulgences. Besides, there will be plenty of days ahead when I am all but forced to sit inside and watch the rain and wind.  Okay, enough ruminating, time to get outside and get shit done.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Regain My Enthusiasm

    I have come to the conclusion that I am not temperamentally disposed to working in customer service. The shame of this is that it is something I am ridiculously good at. The reality is that it stresses me to the point of shattering, and drains me dry. I have reached a nadir in my current employment, dreading certain days, knowing that it will press me to near breaking by the time I can escape back to my shaggy little hermitage. I have become over-reactive, to the point of meltdown over minor issues. Today I ended up having to retreat to my car, put in earplugs, and pour over the journal of ideas that I keep handy while I fought to keep from dissolving into a mess of tears. No, it wasn't pretty.
    Analyzing, as usual, I realized that my over-reactive tendencies have been barely managed for a number of years now. I hesitate to use the phrase PTSD, because I don't dare compare my life to the rigors faced by vets, police, full time emergency responders that have caused many to slip into hellish existences haunted by their past experiences. But I spent far too many years living under a blanket of stress from work and my personal life. I think it destroyed my ability to manage what is likely normal stress for most people. It has made me almost fearful of the idea of having to have a full time job where I have to actually be in contact with others of my species. I just can't handle day to day stressors like I used to. Largely, I think, because I don't want to have to. I don't want to meekly have to take it on the chin. I want to be able to erupt, say "No," and walk away from things that make me unhappy. I think I have earned that right.
    Funny thing though, I can be at the scene of a fatal car accident, helping to pry a badly injured patient from the car, and not have the feeling of insurmountable stress that I get from dealing with customers and management on a day to day basis. If anything, it is the exact opposite; under real, traumatic stress, I am calm, decisive, and in control. I just can't handle the little, petty shit anymore. I've had to deal with too much of the little, petty shit in my life, and I have had enough.
    Today, fortunately, is my Friday, and a half day, I fought my way through the tasks that had to be completed, then fled the scene before I committed any act that could not be either denied, nor covered up by judicious use of a recip saw, a deep hole, and quick lime. I escaped to the serenity of the state park along the river, and the trail that has become my favorite run. The sky was grey and sullen, a fine drizzle turning the summer coating of dust to a caked layer of mud. The run, combined with the fresh, cool, damp air cleared my head. I do my best thinking when I am working my body. Swim, bike, or run, my brain goes into overdrive. By the time I left the woods to stretch out in the open meadow, I was formulating A Plan. Yes, whenever I am trying to realign my life, and come up with a plan to save my sanity and soul, I do see it capitalized: A Plan. 
    I know, I do this with regularity, and it rarely manages to make it off the drawing board. But it makes me feel better, and that is all that matters when I am this close to slipping back into that grim hostel that was my home for too long not that many years ago. I will say, that during the major meltdown of my life I did come up with A Plan (to buy my own home), and I did just that, despite having a major nervous breakdown... or because of it... or the breakdown was caused by the buying process. Oh well, chicken and egg, you know. I have had some moments over the last few years when I have had to give myself a shake, make some plans, and give something new a try. No, I haven't had any great successes with my various schemes, but I keep on trying.
    Winston Churchill said, "Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."  I just need to make A Plan, and maintain my enthusiasm.