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In praise of people who make life easier

I’m in one of those moments when life is overly busy and complicated. Happens to all of us, despite our best intentions. (And of course some people — non-me people — actually like it that way.)

In this case “busy and complicated” doesn’t imply bad. Not at all. Every part of the rush in this case is good. Is wonderful. Things in both life and work are progressing. They’re just progressing all at once, when I’m more of a one-thing-at-a-time person.

In the next couple of weeks, I have to do my part (along with Bill St. Clair and He Who Fakes It Well) to get the new site good and going. I have to supervise an earth-moving project in the narrow space between my house and a hill, then jump in and build a retaining wall in that spot. Smack in the middle of all this, I’m scheduled for an all-day interview for a documentary. And then there’s the matter of moving and this blog away from JustHost to a real hosting service.

It’s not only that these things will take a lot of time and labor, but that they’re all absolutely freakin’ scary.

Building and immediately moving websites? Okay, I’m a hair more techie than the average woman who picks up a computer, but I’m lost in space when it comes to this. The guys are doing all the heavy tech-lifting, but sometimes I don’t even understand what they’re talking about. I’m still behind on the artsy, content-y part of the job, besides.

Building a retaining wall? Okay, I’ve assisted with that before. But now (as the Wandering Monk makes abundantly clear), this is my project. It’s up to me to ensure that the wall is well-engineered enough to live long and prosper at the bottom of that hill. Up to me to decide how big the footer should be and how much rebar we use. Up to me to spec and order the ready-mix for the footer. Up to me to spec all the materials. Up to me to be boss-hog when the Monk and I work together constructing the wall. Up to me to ensure that this entire project provides a proper underpinning for the foundation work that’s to come. He keeps reminding me of that.

And that interview? OMG. I never give interviews any more. I got persuaded into this back in spring. When I hadn’t heard anything in a while and imagined the filmmakers had decided to drop me from the project, I was pleased. Then last week, the interview re-emerged, and with some urgency. Even with them being nice people who promised to obscure my face … well, this is just not the sort of thing I do.

And it’s coming right between the footing pour and the beginning of the wall building. Yeah, I’ll be at my intelligent best right about then. Sure.


But. I come not to whine but to praise.

Every step of everything has been made easier by somebody. Or many somebodies.

This was brought home to me yesterday when the Monk showed up to mow the lawn. Instead he ended up chainsawing a gigantic limb that, the evening before, had spontaneously decided to crash down from an apparently healthy tree (next year, that tree goes). Afterwards, as we stood by the Monk’s truck, we took a few minutes to work out the earth-moving and wall-building schedule. Earlier in the day, I had (with the help of Tim Berners-Lee and his millions of friends) used online calculators to spec out yards of cement, linear feet of rebar, bags of mortar mix and all that sort of thing. And suddenly, with a few minutes of talk and an estimate from a couple of building-supply stores, a vague, gigantic, fearsome, mind-paralyzing project became … just another project on the to-do list.

Still big. Still scary. But one to be taken on a step at a time, just like every other project in the world.

The Monk’s calm reliability was the biggest factor in letting me know that this would all work. That we could do it. That everything would be okay. I knew I was dealing with somebody who would a) show up, b) work with skill, c) creatively cope if things went wrong, and d) be fun to work with.

Same thing with getting two websites built — then just that quickly yanked from their JustHost moorings and re-established on a real hosting site. Never could I have done this without Bill St. Clair and He Who Fakes It Well (aka Carl-Bear Bussjaeger). But not only have they handled so much of it; they’ve handled it with a “here, let me take care of this for you” confidence that has been as much a godsend as the work itself. They’ve taken a load off my mind, not just off my to-do list.

I’ll also get through that interview because I’ll put myself into expert and friendly hands, then just do my best to wing it.

Finally, behind both the websites and the wall-building lie other somebodies. Specifically 85 somebodies who’ve donated to the fundraiser that closes tonight.

Eighty-five somebodies made everything possible. Eighty-five somebodies kept me from bailing out altogether when the Duffys of Backwoods Home announced I could keep blogging for them, as long as I didn’t expect to get paid for it. Eighty-five somebodies are building two websites. Eighty-five somebodies are making it possible for me to do the site prep on the house and move forward toward the final foundation work.

Better yet, eighty-five somebodies injected me with new creative and intellectual energy.

Yeah, when Dave Duffy abruptly announced he wasn’t paying for blogging any more, I was crushed. I really did think of bailing out entirely. I had no idea how I’d even get by, especially when some promised paying work turned into a disorganized disaster. But when friend S. urged me to think bigger instead of huddling smaller, and when I turned to you guys, the world changed. Not only did the funk of failure dissipate, but … well, I don’t know how to explain it without resorting to rainbow-and-unicorn cliches.

I hadn’t realized it, but BHM had been a nice, calm backwater for me. It was safe there (until it wasn’t). I got by. I had a nice time. But I had no incentive to get anywhere. No incentive to reach.

So I suppose I should credit 85 somebodies plus Dave Duffy for kicking me in the backside.

For a little while there, life was most definitely not easier. So much doubt. So many unanswered questions. So little confidence. Even now I don’t know if the new venture will thrive. (I do know that the blog is thriving spectaularly, with both readership and Amazon purchasing way up from where they were at BHM.) But life does become easier when you come out of those foggy, lost times and find an inviting path on the other side — with people holding out their hands to help. Even better when, as is so often the case, you find that the new path is a great improvement over the one you were on before you dipped in to the fog.

So yeah, right now everything’s busy and there’s a bit of overload. And I blame you all for that. 🙂 But I blame you in a really, really good way, you know? Because while some of the details are hard, you’ve made the entire course ahead — you’ve made life — so much easier.

And I say those freedomistas who like to think it’s all about being a completely self-sufficient lone-wolf type don’t know what they’re missing.


  1. AG
    AG August 31, 2016 8:48 pm

    Depending on your privacy concerns, you may want to wear a mask in addition to the electronic scrambling for the vid interview.
    That stuff can and has been “unscrambled” by those with sufficient motivation and funding.
    Sitting behind a screen or holding up an Asian fan would do the trick, and perhaps not interfere with a clip mic.

  2. knobster
    knobster September 1, 2016 9:49 am

    Wish I could grab a shovel and join you with that retaining wall. I love ‘getting your hands dirty’ kind of work. Ironically it was just these kinds of jobs I worked during my summers while attending college that pushed me to study engineering that much harder. I didn’t want to do that kind of work all my life. Now that I sit in front of a computer for 8+ hours a day I yearn to be out in my yard, garden, homestead forest, etc ad infinitum. Sigh…

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