Seven weeks of vacation was fun, but our farmers’ market starts in two weeks, and there is a backlog of work that needs tackling in order to be ready for opening day. We’ve been making soap, lip balm and candles; cleaning, repairing and updating our display spaces; weaving baskets to have in inventory;reclaiming the blueberries, grapes and asparagus from the spring weeds; organizing to get the sausage made; catching up on Saoirse’s homeschool lessons and Ula’s eye therapy; and tackling the glut of spring planting. This week, Bob also had to take our fleeces up to the mill in Prince Edward Island, where they will be made into blankets and yarn to sell. Two days before he was scheduled to leave, our sink backed up. He stayed up all hours of the night attempting every plumbing trick he knew of in an effort to clear it out.
Thankfully, the girls were both visiting friends and family for the weekend, leaving us alone to deal with the mess. In a last ditch effort prior to his departure, he went out and bought a gallon of some sort of liquid fire, dumped it down the drain, and hoped for the best.
Things only got worse. The sink backed up like never before, and filled itself with the toxic poison. Bob stared at me, wide-eyed. “I’m SO sorry! I don’t want to leave you with this!” We cooked on the grill and carried our dishes back and forth to the remaining working sinks in the house, and agreed it was time to call the plumber. The next day, Sunday, he left.
Soon after, my mom and dad dropped by, bringing Ula home from her sleepover. They took one look at the state of my kitchen, the contents of the sink cabinets spread around the floor, the dishes scattered around the house and my wild eyes, then loaded her back in the car, and informed me she was sleeping over at the farm until the problem was resolved. They arranged for Saoirse to be dropped off there as well.
And then I was alone. I felt the house sigh around me as we settled in together. Certainly there was a lot of work to be done, but suddenly the pace was my own. My labors didn’t need to be squeezed in between meal times, cuddle times, referee calls for sister battles, potty assistance, story-reading, tooth brushing. There was just me, my dog and cat, and 60 willows to plant and mulch, 32 candles to be made, a few hundred pounds of sausage to make down at the farm, one kitchen with a surfeit of dishes, and dumped-out cabinets, and a backed-up sink filled with liquid fire. Sure it was a formidable amount of work. But now I would be able to tackle it in the luxurious state of uninterrupted peace.
I didn’t get on the phone right away with a plumber who responded to emergency calls. Truth be told, I didn’t want to come up with the funds that an emergency call would require. And as I was now able to have some peace and quiet to think, I concluded that there really was no reason I couldn’t fix that sink myself. And make the 32 candles, plant the 60 willows, clean up the kitchen, then head to the farm the next morning to make the sausage.
In 48 hours of being on my own, I admittedly got a lot done. But I sat down for a total of 7 minutes. My body was in a state of exhaustion. I knew I needed to rest, but each time I found my way to my rocking chair, I would leap up, remembering a load of laundry that needed to be hung out, or noticing a light that hadn’t been switched off, or thinking of some new trick that I could try with the sink . I didn’t read, knit, or even make myself a cup of coffee or tea. I burned through two work shirts and one pair of Carhart pants with liquid fire, acquired several burns up and down my arms, and the only time I talked was to answer my mother’s phone calls with “no, it’s not fixed yet.”
I finally did surrender and call the plumber. I left in the middle of sausage making and drove home to meet him. I fixed my lunch while he was there, and as he worked, we chatted away about myriad things – the differences between his city clients and country clients; how his younger brother, who was accompanying him on the job, had just dropped out of high school to learn the family trade; how he’d always wanted to be a writer. He showed me how to fix the sink and flush the pipes with boiling water. And I wrote him a check for two hundred dollars before sending him on his way. After wincing at the price, I realized that, because he’d shown up, I had finally sat down and rested.
Our house is restored now. Bob is home, the sink works, and I am back to squeezing my work into the spaces between morning coffee with Bob, homeschool lessons and eye therapy, regularly scheduled meal times and refereeing sibling rivalries – all those pesky impediments to my productivity that let me rest, relax, and enjoy my life.
|Shannon Hayes is the author of Radical Homemakers.|