As I sit down to start writing this, it’s just a few minutes past 8AM. There’s a roast roasting, fresh sheets are on the bed, the vacuum was run through, the creatures have been tended. Even the birds have received their ration of feed. The heavy lifting of the day is done. It’s one of the perks of waking up not far past 5AM (the other being that at such an hour the world outside is brilliantly quiet, though that’s less an issue when winter’s in the air).
Yesterday I uncovered a bottle of unremarkable champaign, sparkling wine from California if we’re to be technical, that I’d stashed in the basement at some point and promptly forgotten about. Usually, finding something in the basement wouldn’t pass for something worthy of mention, except for this morning it’s a good illustration of why I don’t mind so much the 5AM wake up call and it’s corresponding 9PM bed time.
Sunday’s aren’t always a day of rest here. I don’t know how any working person could manage to give away a whole day like that. From time to time, though, the too do list thins a bit, you find a bottle of champaign in the basement, and you get to spend Sunday morning in a comfortable corner with a good book and a mimosa while the sun streams in the window.
If it weren’t for this kind of Sunday at Fortress Jeff from time to time, I’m not at all sure how I’d tolerate Monday through Friday during an average week.
The homestead is something of an animal kingdom. The squirrels and birds get plied with all the nuts and seeds they can eat, the resident deer get the occasional handful of corn, and all manner of morsels from the kitchen feed whatever creatures will eat them. The critters inside pretty much have the run of the place. As often as not it feels like the whole household is designed around them. Given the amount of time I spent shifting furniture yesterday that’s not quite an understatement.
Until Hershel the cat came along, George the tortoise lived happily in his open topped enclosure in the office. With the addition of a cat, who wasn’t so much interested in the tortoise as he was in jumping into and out of the enclosure and spinning ground coconut onto every flat surface in the room with every leap in and out. Between the never-ending cycle of vacuuming up coconut shell and the threat of tipping over various heat lamps, the two had to be separated.
That was easy enough in the winter – close up the doors to the sunroom/office and go on about the day. With spring setting in and inability to satisfactorily control the ambient air temperature coming to a head, George had to move… Which is why I spent most of the day yesterday getting him installed in his own bedroom. Yes, I understand how perfectly ridiculous that sounds, but I suspect we’ll all be happier with this arrangement. Well, the cat may not be as pleased since I seem to have taken away one of his favorite toys. I supposed he’ll just have to satisfy himself with other less messy options for the foreseeable future.
I’m well satisfied with out new arrangement, but perhaps more satisfied that the furniture is all back in place and the hand carts and other implements of moving are back in the garage. Around here the biggest enemies to a happy life are chaos and disorder. Spending the better part of a day bringing those to heel feels like time awfully well spent.
I spent some time this morning, like I do on most pre-dawn Sunday mornings sitting at my desk, reading over the wires, paying a few bills, and drinking coffee before getting the day started in earnest. Somewhere, about 14 feet above my head one of the skylights is dripping. I know this because the mortgage statement I happened to have sitting in front of me suddenly had three distinct water marks appear on it. It was precisely three and now I’ve been sitting here for 30 minutes waiting on the next one to fall. But it hasn’t. Which means I’m going to end up doing exactly the kind of thing I didn’t want to do this weekend… break out the ladder and go searching for of a one-off leak in the damned skylight. This is how it suddenly turns into Sunday night and I’m left wondering where the weekend went. All because of three damned little drops of water and wanting to stop them from turning into a flood.
You can say what you will about raucous benders, trips through Amish Country, and adventures on the high seas, but as for me, the best weekends tend to be the ones where I don’t have much to say on Sunday night. It means they went more or less according to plan, weren’t jam packed with the yammering of strangers, and essentially allowed me to deal with the least amount of stupid possible. Those weekends don’t tend to make for great blogging, but they do tend to leave me feeling rested. That’s saying something especially coming hard on the heels of a dog that insisted on barking through every roll of thunder and gust of wind all the previous night.
Like all good things this too must end. Daylight tomorrow will break on a computer that may or may not be networked, a gaggle of senior personnel who have decided over the weekend that months of planning need to be changed overnight, remembering we’re in the midst of an election with no good choices, and the general asshattery that comes along with your average Monday. That makes these good weekends, the best of them, among the most rare of gems. And you can’t beat that with a stick.
As most of the rest of the Western world is busy celebrating Easter, I’ve mostly spent this Sunday morning trying to wrap my head around the idea that one year ago almost to the hour I was sitting down and signing my name on 37,361 pieces of paper that allowed me to borrow a horrifying sum of cash and move into a far better house than I imagined possible. I won’t say that the year has been all sunshine and roses – it feels like there’s been some part of the place under construction for most of that time; not to mention an ever-lengthening list of projects yet to come.
Now with that being said, and despite the general pain in the ass of being a homeowner, this place ranks among the better decisions I’ve ever made. Good bones, good neighborhood – and neighbors I can’t even see for three seasons of the year – it’s a hard place not to like. The longer I’m here, the more I change to suit me versus suiting the last guy to live here, the more I like it.
I’m already struggling to imagine that a year ago I was standing in the middle of a totally empty house wondering what the hell I’d gotten myself into.
I’ve always read that people who don’t have a plan for what they’re going to do in retirement are the ones that end up bored or worse – longing to return to the orderly days of life at work. While a two week vacation hardly qualifies as a dry-run for retirement I can say with at least some degree of certainty that a really detailed plan to fill my days may not be strictly necessary when the big day comes.
For the last week or so I’ve mostly done as the spirit moved me. I ate when I was hungry, slept when I was tired, and filled in the other hours cooking, tinkering around on minor repair projects that time never seems to be found for, devising less-than-lethal anti-squirrel devices, and reading. To put it simply, I excel at simply puttering around the house and doing whatever strikes my fancy. I think I could be ok doing that for a long, long time.
Of course I’m not retired – and not even on the same continent as that far off day. Now is the time (or more precisely tomorrow is the time) when I’ve got to go back to busting my hump to pay for the possibility of unlimited free time at some point in the future. As this particular winter Sunday draws to a close, I find my motivation lacking… anyone out there want to pool our funds and buy a crapload of Powerball tickets?
With the heavy lifting of last week over, I’m fairly certain that we’re now returning to your regularly scheduled broadcasts around here. Mercifully, the coming week will largely be about administrative minutia and doctoring up the aftermath to make sure everyone comes out looking good. Being a master bureaucrat of long experience, thats the kind of work I can churn out all day long without calling on too much brain power. It’s for the best really, because I’m still not sure how deep reserve of that I have, even after the long weekend of making no decision more challenging than when to eat and what to watch.
Our great bureaucracy is in the midst of that magical time of year when just about everyone’s thoughts are turning to the two month “holiday season,” those eight or nine weeks of the year between Veteran’s Day and New Years that are punctuated by 4 federal holidays and everyone trying to burn off the last of their use-or-lose vacation time. It’s not quite a “slow” season, as the beast always needs fed, but the pace does ease – if only because at any time it’s likely one or more of the people you need to talk to to get anything accomplished will be elsewhere.
In no way should that be interpreted as a complaint. In fact I’m counting on the schedule taking a few stutter steps if I’m ever going to catch up on email and all the other stuff I’ve been largely ignoring over the last few weeks. When I was last at my desk, the unread message count stood somewhere around 300+. If Thursday and Friday kept up the pace, I could have a personal best 500 messages waiting for me to read, file, delete, or continue to ignore indefinitely.
While in an of itself that all seems pretty bad, I can tell you this is the least angst-filled Sunday night I’ve passed in quite some time. I’m counting it as a win.