Friday, May 8, 2015

repeated handling, no wheels

Yesterday I pulled the big tarp off the pile of construction debris left by the carpenters who worked on the porch,
and began picking away at it.
It's a task, alright.

Many years ago, I worked for a while in a stockroom.
Heavy boxes. Lots of them. Receiving, distributing.
At the time, I relished heavy physical labor.

Two tips I learned from the stockroom manager,
which have served me well over the years:

1) Move it once.
2) Put it on wheels.

Unfortunately, neither of these tips is applicable
to the debris pile situation.
It's a matter of picking up each piece,
brushing off dirt and sawdust,
determining potential usefulness,
removing all nails and hardware,
and adding it to one of several smaller piles.

After one hour, the original pile looked like this:

And there are now five smaller piles/stacks
that look more like this:

It looks like progress!

It also looks like the same mess
spread out over a larger area.

If When I get to the bottom of the big pile,
each smaller pile of salvaged material will need to be
sorted, organized, and carried, piece by piece,
to one of the sheds for storage.
Likely much of it will reappear in a future project.
(Stay tuned!)

I have to pace myself on a task like this.
Well, on any task, if I'm honest.
I can spend an hour or so working,
then must stop and rest my bones.
And repeat.

The work periods get shorter,
and the rest periods get longer.
As the physical toll becomes cumulative and 
the resting becomes less effective,
it becomes more and more difficult 
to pry myself out of a "zero-gravity" position
and force my body back into action
for even fifteen minutes.

I'm a long, long way from those stockroom days.


I often remind myself: it is not important
how long it takes me to do something
or how difficult/exhausting/painful the simplest task.
What is important is that I can do it at all.
And that I do.

I believe this, but must remind myself. Daily.
Because in my mind I hear, "lazy." Also, "whiner."
Sometimes even, "Lazy whiner!"

It's certainly true I postpone/avoid some chores.

Many of my routine tasks come with an obvious reward.
Carrying water buckets to the goats, for example.
Brushing Piper. Emptying the dishwasher.
Disproportional fatigue and aching joints, but:
healthy goats, happy Piper, a harvest of sparkling dishes!

Tackling a chore like the pile of construction debris
is less satisfying. It's much more like housework, which is also an awful grind and rarely gives me a feeling of satisfaction.
Possibly because I am so bad at it.
Or maybe that's a chicken-and-egg situation.

Here's what I'm thinking:
I need to adjust my attitude;
learn to find the satisfaction - the inherent reward -
in all these tasks.

Any advice?



  1. When it comes to housework I have zero advice because I derive absolutely no pleasure from the task. I cleaned last weekend for 6 hours and can tell you that today, it was mostly a waste of time as everything is the same as if I never spent those 6 long hours doing anything at all. So why do I bother? That certainly is a big pile to get through, but so many future projects waiting to come to life. Now, that could be fun. Especially if the projects in any way benefit the goats. :) Changing out mindset is helpful in many situations. But not every task can be done joyfully. Best wishes, Tammy

    1. Thanks, Tammy - so true.
      It baffles me that I get so much genuine satisfaction from cleaning the barn - a task that is "undone" before I even put the pitchfork away, thanks to a gang of helpful goats and hens who simultaneously review my work AND poop - but none from cleaning my own "barn"!

  2. No advice from me, the laziest woman on the planet. You work hard; celebrate that and give yourself some credit. :)

  3. My advice is keep on going, and play music while you do. You never know when you might want to stop and do a jig. No sense missing an opportunity just because you're busy.

  4. Not much advice from this quarter either. Other than maybe to suggest that you promise yourself the most decadent special wonderful treat at the end...and then stick to it!!

    1. This would involve cake, I think...with layers, and icing. Mmmm. I like the way you think! I haven't had cake in months.

  5. You might consider looking on it as a form of working meditation and one result would be to suspend judgement on your achievement just a thought.

    1. Working meditation is pretty much the way I approach all my daily tasks - we think alike, Boud! But now I will try to consciously apply it - and especially the "suspended judgement" aspect - to the tasks I am inclined to postpone. Ta!

  6. For things that I hate doing or is just hard physical labor, I put in my earphones and listen to podcast stories. Or something funny. I do this for things like turning the compost and double digging a garden bed. The hardest thing for me though is to just start something. I tell myself I only have to work for 10 minutes, but I'm usually fine finishing once I start.

    1. That's a good idea! I listen to audiobooks on my laptop while I knit, but almost never think to do it while I'm working on an onerous task. And there are plenty of those tasks that don't need much of my attention, so an audiobook or podcast would be easy to follow.
      Thanks, Daphne!

  7. I feel unqualified to give advice because I am terrible at tasks like that one. But, for things like gardening, I break it up into very short stints. If I do a short stint every day, it's amazing the progress I've made in 2 weeks. (but there's almost no change after 1 short stint :)

    It actually looks to me like you've made a good bit of progress!

    1. That's so true - a little bit daily really does add up over time. I need to be more disciplined about the "daily" part.

  8. I think I'm the opposite to you. I can see more progress in organizing a pile of scrap lumber than in yet another load of clean dishes. You are making great progress with the clean up! I have had to adjust my lifting limits over the past few years. I injured myself with some repetitive snow lifting, and compounded that with hauling a basement full of heavy garbage over and over from my parents' home. Now I ask for help rather than risk further injury ... but asking for help takes time, and I want things done now! Slow and steady seems like the best compromise on some things. As long as I can see a difference in the work done, I'm happy. I hope your new room is finished up this week! How exciting for you. Just in time to enjoy relaxing in your beautiful woods ;)

    1. "As long as I can see a difference in the work done, I'm happy." I think this is something I can consciously work on - thanks!

  9. To me, tasks like that are both satisfying and annoying. Satisfying to see something straightened up and out of the way, annoying because there always seems to be something more important to do. Still, that lumber represents a valuable resource!

    1. Yes, every time I pulled a resisting nail I reminded myself of the price of lumber. I'd always rather "shop" in the sheds than make a trip to a lumberyard!

  10. Just coming in to wish Tsuga and the other mom goats a happy Mother's Day!

  11. Hi Quinn, like you, I derive a lot of pleasure from farm/barn work and not so much from housework. There's so much work, of various flavors, and just one git 'r done. Choose your battles wisely because you've won the're living the life so many only dream of living.

    1. Well, I certainly never thought of it that way. Do you really think so? Thanks for giving me something to ponder, Sandra!

  12. I understand your frustration. Housework sometimes seems so futile - esp with others in the house that make messes but it doesn't seem to bother them. Last weekend I set a timer for 15 min and worked like a crazy woman to get done what I could in one room; took a short break and did the same in another. Unfortunately I pooped out after just a couple of rooms but it made a difference

    1. 15-minute stints really do make a difference on a lot of things, don't they? And sometimes I try to do a routine task - like folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher - while I'm heating something in the microwave. Surprising how much can be done in even 3 minutes! Wish more things were like that ;)


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