Life has been incredibly busy the last 9 months. We worked fairly relentlessly on the Earthship from February 2010 to January 2011. We accomplished a lot! Last fall, we started homeschooling the kids, I started consulting as a bookkeeper and writer and we skate skied three times a week at our local trails during the winter months.
By the time we returned from the Kimberly, BC conference at the end of January 2011, we were officially burned out. We proceeded with some work on the house, but since winning the So Nice contest in early February, our work has been intermittent. Quite honestly, we’ve argued a lot about how to proceed.
Some of this came about because I got cold feet about how far into our savings we should dip to complete the house. Although we are completely on budget since setting it in 2009, I began to feel slightly uneasy about how far into savings we were prepared to go. It’s ironic in a way…most people argue about how much debt to add to their lives. We were arguing about how much savings we thought we needed to have after our mortgage-free house was built!!
As we were discussing finances through February, Chris had taken over most of the kids’ instruction as I became busier and busier with bookkeeping clients. Chris and I started talking about veggie oil vehicles and unbeknownst to me in the midst of this, Chris had been visualizing some R&D work on gasifiers. The parts he won last summer from Victory Gasworks were waiting for him and he very much wanted to be well into this project by now.
I took on the administrative leadership of the kids’ 4-H club and that too, has been taking me away from the house.
Complicating matters (but boosting our bank account) was the extra wrinkle that occured at one of my clients’ place of business. I needed some help with the accounting software on my laptop because it kept crashing. Chris thought that the data file should be stored on the company server, so with my employer’s permission, he came in and moved things around. He also got my laptop and another at the office to talk to the network properly. Basically he impressed my boss and was offered a job looking after the IT functions at this medical facility. He is THAT good. So, now Chris has a job, but one, hopefully that will be part-time in a few weeks.
Working elsewhere has been good for both of us. We’ve forgotten how incredibly competent we both are at whatever we do. It’s nice to hear other people say so. We have new things to talk about at the end of the day and it puts our life and choices into perspective. I think we appreciate each other more; it’s easy to take one another for granted after 22 years.
For the last 13 years Chris and I have worked together on almost everything and we work best when we are equally involved. So we have been faced with a bit of a conundrum: with our various schedules and commitments, when and how would we get the house re-started? What is our priority?
I’ve thought that now we are off the roof we could open the construction process to volunteers again. For safety, we had turned away a great number of volunteers last year. Having volunteers, though, requires lots of preparation time, too. We’ve been tremendously fortunate that all our volunteers have been amazing and I’d like to think that we could involve people once again. But it requires a lot of Chris’ time planning and designing next steps. I’m a great implementer, but lack the experience necessary to design things like electrical and greywater lines.
When the kids’ school year is complete in a few weeks time we will be having a longer conversation about how to pursue our various interests while keeping the house construction going. Neither of us is looking forward to another winter in the Nutshell, but we’d like to do a bit more kayaking this summer and get a few other projects off the ground, all of which will take us away from house building.
I’m nervous that changing priorities will slow down the house to the point where we lose interest. I’m worried the kids will have flown the nest by the time we move in (much like my childhood where we finally moved into a half finished house when I was 15). I’m wondering if we are too tired of it to keep going.
But I’m heartened by the inscription Chris wrote on my Mother’s Day card a few weeks ago. “It is worth reflecting on past accomplishments, if only to make our dreams seem real…”
So I keep telling myself, “Breathe in, breathe out.” Life is good; the blessings are great.