Saturday, June 5, 2010

Only so many hours in the day

One of my readers e-mailed me and gave me a good chewing out. He pointed out, quite fairly, that I can only do what I do because of my rather flexible schedule. I don't have the regular 9 to 5 work thing. That gives me time to do projects at home, cook food from scratch, cut split and pile firewood, gather and process WVO, garden, bake and all the other things that fill my days.

He's in a situation where a 60 hour work week is a slow week. Throw in all the commute time, time spent preparing for work, time recovering from work, and there aren't a lot of hours left in the week. On top of that, he's spending time with his wife and son. It's surprising he finds time to do basic home repair.

Part of the reason he works so many hours is that he got screwed in a real estate deal. Twice. Not really his fault. In today's economy, his story isn't even that unusual. In spite of it all, he's keeping a roof over his family's head and food in the pantry. Plenty of people have done worse with better.

So, from his point of view, I've got all the time in the world. Well, I've got more time flexibility than he does, but I too could use more hours in the day. Right now I'm falling behind on the last of the garden work. Between bad weather and other commitments, it's not getting done. I must admit I sometimes pick up a loaf of bread at the store rather than bake it. I'm not buying bread, I'm buying time. Tonight I cooked up some frozen turkey burgers -again, buying time.

Instead of gardening today, I helped my son-in-law do cement work. We had a half dozen guys helping out. Later, I did some trouble shooting on a friend's off-grid electric system. Here's the thing about community building -that too takes time. If you want people to help you, you've got to be willing to help others out.

Of the crew that was working with cement, only my son-in-law has what you would call a normal job. He cashed in some earned time and took the day off so he could do his project. The rest of the crew works odd hours, has seasonal jobs, are off from school, out of work, or retired.

Now if you are working crazy hours trying to make ends meet, there's not too much extra that can be squeezed into your days. Fine, but if you find yourself working fewer and fewer "real job" hours, it'll be worth your while to reach out to others in similar circumstances. Just as I sometimes spend money to save time, you may find yourself in a situation where it makes sense to spend time instead of money.

Another of my friends found himself out of work a couple summers ago. While he was out of work, he got together with two other households and gathered firewood. He didn't have a chainsaw or a truck. He joined up with others who had those things. He has a good strong back and did most of the loading. The following winter there wasn't much money to buy heating oil, but he was able to use his woodstove instead.

Is it a perfect system? No, but if you have friends and family to reach out to, you just might be able to find good enough solutions.


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