"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring Cleaning (My Lazy Philosophy)

Spring is a time for taking stock; for walking the perimeter, checking the stores, cleaning house, and generally saying goodbye to winter and to the old year with it, while saying hello to the new year and getting ready to face the work that comes with. "Spring Cleaning" is still a very real, important concept for those of us who live in four season climates. Even if we no longer literally have to remove the dust and deritrus of a long winter spent indoors, it is still helpful to clear out psychic debris and clutter that accumulates over the long, dark months. I find that taking stock - mental as well as physical - helps me to face the new year with vigor and cheer. I can abandon old, half finished projects whose usefulness is dubious, and replace them with newer ideas for which I have more excitement. If, for example, my winter long attempt to get into lacto-fermentation was a flop (nobody here likes kim chee but me) then spring is a good time to admit failure on that front, wash out the jars, and use them for making sprouts instead.

None of this is to ignore the very real "spring cleaning" jobs that do actually still exist - today I tackled the refrigerator. It is a great feeling, on the first warm-enough day of spring, to open all the windows wide and sweep vigorously - not the just the floor but the walls, and the corners of the ceilings where the cobwebs gather. In olden days (well, my grandmother's generation) this would be the time to take down the curtains and run them through the wash; to carry the rugs outside and beat them with a broom; to empty the cupboards and bleach the shelves. My house would surely benefit from all of the above, but I'm not going to do it. I don't even have curtains; I have venetian blinds. Yeah, I know, those would also benefit from a quick swipe with a rag dipped in vinegar. Okay, okay! I'll mop the wood floors with Murphy's oil soap, at least. My "spring cleaning" bears an ominous resemblance to other people's "weekly cleaning."

None of this is what I started to write about. I started to write about my big "spring cleaning" project this week - taking a State of the Homestead survey. We have now lived on this piece of land for nearly four years, and I have made considerable progress toward my goal of creating a self-sufficient - or mostly so - homestead. Although there is still a great deal of work to be done - probably more than half - I feel sufficient pride in my accomplishment to want to document it. Of course, the process of documenting my progress will also show up the areas that need more attention. It's a spring-cleaning mental exercise, meant to help me get organized and energized to forge ahead in the coming year.

Writing a full State of the Homestead report will take more than one blog post. So today, I'll write an outline, and spend bits of the the next week writing the actual report. I plan to follow the outline I laid out long ago in my private planning blog, "The Worry Book," in which I name categories of necessary preparation. Here's an excerpt from that blog, from 2009:

When I think about the differences, I mostly think in broad categories. I'll list them as I see them now, and then go over each one in more detail. In the future, we will need to have new functioning systems to replace the old systems that will presumably not be available or not be affordable. I'll call these alternative utilities. We will need new knowledge and skills. We will need supplies, and we will need to have some provision for security. I lost my train of thought for a while while I was having coffee with my guests, so I think I've temporarily forgotten something. It'll come back to me. I think, actually, the fifth thing is food security. It might go under "supplies" but because of the size and complexity of the issue, it gets it's own category.

My next blog post will detail the progress I have made on the "alternative utilities" front.