Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Day in the Life

One of the ironies of living the simple country life—by which I mean an intentionally low-consumption lifestyle that's agrarian based—is that most days are anything but simple. In fact, as a homesteader, community networker, process consultant, and husband (to a wife who lives three miles away and is recovering from Lyme disease), most days are a complex choreography.

Every now and then I have a day where the gear changes are especially nuanced. Yesterday, for example, I rotated through all my hats, some more than once...

o  Right after an eye-opening cup of coffee, I started laundry so that I'd have a clean tablecloth for the Historic Folklife Festival in Hannibal MO this weekend, plus a clean fair shirt that has special meaning for me. This particular shirt was custom made for me by Jules, an ex-partner from 20 years ago, when she lived at Sandhill. The shirt is now frayed a little at the cuffs, but it's still my fair shirt and can't imagine wearing anything else when standing behind our product table.

o  While the laundry whirled, I made a small batch (six jars) of red horseradish, by adding pickled beets to regular horseradish and whooshing it through the Robot Coupe. We'd sold out last weekend in Lawrence and I knew there'd be customers looking for our distinctive red variety in Hannibal. While we'll sell out the first day, at least the early birds will get some and it will set up a great quip for those who ask for it too late: "There are only two kinds of people," I'll deadpan, "the quick and not red."

o  Next I began cleaning the floor in our food processing kitchen (which is also where the laundry machine resides). Our annual organic inspection is coming up this weekend and I agreed to hand scrub the floor—which hadn't been done in many months and had an incredible build up of gunk and food detritus. For some reason, over the years I've gravitated to cleaning floors as a specialty and the community was grateful for my offer at last Thursday's community meeting to tackle this odious job.

o  As I was the cook Thursday night, I was also responsible for Friday's lunch. Thus, I took a break from doing the floor to get the leftovers from the Indian dish I'd prepared into our solar oven, so that the morning sun could be heating it up while I cleaned the Augean stables kitchen floor.

Fortunately, I finished with the floor 15 minutes before noon. That left me with just enough time to empty the dish rack, put out lunch, and clean up the residual breakfast dishes. Whew.

o  After cleaning up the lunch dishes I went down to the FIC Office (a funky 12x60 '70s-era house trailer) and did an office shift for Jacob, who's on his honeymoon. This entailed fulfilling web orders for our publications, followed by a stint screening over 160 records of people (or groups) whose annual membership will be expiring in the next 60 days. Major supporters—anyone whose given $100 or more at one time in the past five years—are singled out for special treatment. While the letters won't go out until next week, I did the culling Friday.

o  Then it was time to take the laundry off the line and start packing the pickup with product for the trip to Hannibal. That took a couple hours, and I was pleased to finish before dinner (by 15 minutes).

o   It was good to sit down for a bit and pore over the email that had accumulated during the day. While it didn't take long to delete the spam, there were a number of important exchanges I needed to handle before the weekend, including:
—Discussing with FIC's webmaster the importance of coordinating databases with the work being done in Europe by the Global Ecovillage Network. The goal is to make it possible for a community to create one listing that can be used by both groups. The problem is that GEN's database has been created using Drupal and ours uses Word Press. So getting the databases to play nicely together may take some doing.
—Getting the green light from the Ecovillage Network of the Americas Task Force charged with creating a sub-network that focuses on the English and French-speaking countries of North America (essentially the US and Canada) to consider combining efforts with FIC. This is a big deal and I made sure to notify the Board right away. (For more on this see my blog of Sept 16, Cooperation Among Cooperators.)
—Agreeing on a date to conduct a public get-together in Portland OR next month, to generate interest in the capital campaign to raise money for Dancing Rabbit's Green Community Center, which will include office space for FIC (replacing the aforementioned trailer).
—Buying a plane ticket to get to Las Vegas to see me daughter (Jo) and son-in-law (Peter), once I had the fundraising date in Portland settled.
—Giving date guidance for a church in Columbia MO that wants to hire me to work with the congregation on dealing constructively with conflict. They're leaning toward a Sunday in March, but three of the five are already spoken for. I book on a first-come-first-served basis and they're losing wiggle room by proceeding so deliberately.
—Coordinating with McCune in the FIC's Virginia Office about what days I'll be in the Missouri Office to field the web orders he sends my way.
—Responding to an inquiry from an old friend and community veteran in Wisconsin who's considering sponsoring the winter 2014 issue of Communities magazine, with a special focus on sustainability.

o  After roaring through my email, I slurped down two bowls of borscht (featuring a great crop of fall beets and some of the venison we harvested last November) and then jumped into the shower.

o  All clean, I headed over to Dancing Rabbit in the packed pickup, to spend the night with Ma'ikwe—who is not just of the fair sex, she's my fair partner as well—so that we could get an early start this morning for the 75-mile drive to Hannibal.

o  It was a pleasure to sit down in a easy chair next to a wood fire in Ma'ikwe's living and simply relax. After a bit of yakking, I made a cup of tea, shelled some pistachios, and we made a serious dent in a New York Times Sunday crossword. Partway through, Ma'ikwe's son, Jibran, stopped in our bedroom to relate how his day had gone, which also featured some careful scheduling. It was enjoyable to see him get excited, as a 16 year old, developing self-discipline about how he uses his time. It's a life skill he'll never regret.

o  When Ma'ikwe cashed in (circa 9 pm) I lingered near the wood stove for another 90 minutes and banged out this blog entry (since I knew I wouldn't have time today).

• • •
Thus, I went from homesteader, to FIC Office worker, to fair honcho, to community networker (with a dab of logistical work for process consulting, public speaking, and travel arrangements), to husband, to writer.

Though a bit schizophrenic at times, it's my life and I enjoy the dance.

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