Sunday, December 23, 2012

Here's what's going on in the valley.

    Two days to Christmas, which I don't celebrate anyway as I'm more the Bah, Humbug sort of person.  As we both work for the university  we've got 13 days off from work, which may or may not mean more things get done around here.

     Half that time The Manimal will be here at home.

     Formerly that would have meant I would get nothing done from my own project list as his list tended to steamroller over mine. This had something to do with sexism.  It would not have occurred to him to ask me what I wanted to do on a weekend, he simply planned what we would do, which was almost always work. Hard work.  He is very much a workaholic and spends his free moments at his job thinking up more things to work on at home.  It also has something to do with both of us growing up in the '50's when it was assumed men's ideas were more important than women's ideas and naturally ought to come first. (or only-est).
     To further brighten things this is a country homestead with acres (UK smallholding) not a suburban house with a swatch of lawn. There is plenty of backbreaking work here, loosely divided into 1-Must Be Done Now,  2-Do ASAP, and 3-Do When Time Allows. Also there's 4-Would Be Nice. Sometimes things just slide off the end of 4 and are gone forever.  There is more than enough to do here to take up all our time, both of us all day every day, just to keep this place is a clunky slipshod condition and keep us all fed and clean. (two humans, 18 fowl, 2 rabbits and 3 think-they're-humans)

I often think of Millie Pontapee's accusation: "You don't want a wife Adam, you want a hired girl!"
 However, the times they are a-changin.  Since I've become gainfully employed  with a real (albeit humble) permanent job rather than just a temp position, I feel in my heart that I'm more of a partner in the household and less of a doormat. I am not willing to do physically hard labor during the work week and then come home exhausted to spend my weekends hauling and stacking firewood or anything else that would make me wish I were for-petes-sake-dead already.
    These days I have taught myself not to automatically fall in with just anything the Manimal decides to do.  I ask myself first whether I have the energy to do it or whether it would exhaust me, because I do need to be able to go back to work when the weekend is over.
     It has taken half a century to learn to say No. or No Thank You, or You And Whose Army?

    So. The week Manimal is home I'll do some things with him and some of my own. He's got a good deal of book mending to do for folks including mending an old family Bible needed for someone's Christmas Eve.    
     When he's mending and repairing books and documents I work on stitching up here in the loft. It is oddly companionable as we can hear each other, or listen to music (The Nutcracker is playing right now) and converse as we wish. The dogs and cat follow me up to the loft and nap on the bed which keeps them nicely out from under foot downstairs. When he's home with paying jobs to do I get a lot done of my own.

      As a bonus complication he suffered a fall this past week. He was on campus to grade his students final projects and the stools in the bookbinding lab have adjustable legs, the type where one pipe telescopes into another and is held in place with a bolt in a series of holes. Manimal sat on a stool which had lost the bolt in one leg, the leg instantly telescoped and dumped him on the floor.  Concrete floor.The fall knocked him unconscious, and he suffered a concussion and a broken tailbone. This has slowed him down a bit, and while I sympathize with his pain the slower pace suits me just fine. It has been a more peaceful than usual week.  

     The second week of winter break The Manimal will be in London on business. I will be a lone homesteader, here holding down the fort. I'll be stitching on various things and tending animals as usual.  I've come a long way on sorting through the loft and hope to get through the last stack of three boxes and make one last haul to the Goodwill.
    Meantime here's the progress:
View from the stairwell.  Critters napping.

Sewing area where no one is currently using a sewing machine.

Bookcase, dolls abodes, and an ugly Rubbermaid cabinet that was here when I moved in. In spring I'll find it a home elsewhere.

Quilt I'm currently mending.

Sitting area, desks, and my fabulous hillbilly electrical system. There is only electricity on one side of the room, so I ran an extension cord over to the quilt frame for the lights and taped it down so I won't trip on it. When the quilts are done it can all be put away and I'll have more floor space.  I adore floor space.

Meanwhile in the valley snow has fallen and my camera battery has been recharged. Here's a few peeks out the window for those of you who live in southern climes and won't be seeing snow this winter.

East window (pardon my ball winder).

West window. The shamrock was dying when I brought it up to the loft, but is doing very well up here.

The big window at the south end of the house. I can see this from the loft as well as the loft is only over half the main part of the house and the livingroom is below this window.

The slope across the driveway where Lilly chases the deer out of our front yard early in the mornings.

Reindeer for Manimal's bookbinding class. I'm Bah Humbug, but I like baking cookies.

Goldie. She's the brightest of the hens, and anytime the door gets left open (by Lilly) Goldie sneaks in to help herself to some dog food. This has never occurred to any of the other chickens and apparently Goldie is not giving away her secrets.

The golden triangular bit is the ceiling of the livingroom, which the loft overlooks.  Very handly for chatting with the Manimal when he's down there. I also toss my laundry over the half-wall rather than try to wiggle down the stairway with a huge basket in my arms.

Clearly there's a delicious lot of space to work up here now.  The second week of winter break there will be no Manimal, just the 24 of us homebodies. I think of this as "time alone". Haha.  Aside from sorting the last three boxes I hope to get some sewing done. I've got curtains to make, and then I'll start on my winter sewing list, a shirt for the Manimal for a start and then the rest of the list which is long and getting longer as the little grandmanimal is starting to outgrow things.

I think it's going to be a lot more fun to work up here now that there's room to work and a place for everything. Yay!

Hope you all are having fun doing whatever it is you do this time of year.


  1. Gasp!! I am only halfway through reading this had to stop and say - the Manimal is coming to London and YOU ARE NOT COMING WITH HIM? What were you thinking??? Doh!

  2. Finished reading now - your attic is looking fab; sing hey for floor space! xxx

  3. I almost always don't come with him Ember. He travels for work, and work has thus far not volunteered to pay me to tag along. Alas, such is life amongst the peasantry. He is there safe now, enjoying the drizzle.

  4. I shall start saving my pennies!

  5. I often read your blog on the iPod Touch, fully intend to comment once I'm back on a Real Computer. Too bad my memory has these big, gaping holes....

    I love your mini-essay on Getting Steamrollered and Learning to Stand Up for Your Time. I even read it to Ian.

    The loft looks sooooooooo beauuuuuuutiful! WORLDS better than it has in its whole life, betcha anything. Look at you go!


If you disagree with me try to keep it clean, or I'll wash your mouth out with homemade soap.