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Big projects, little steps

When I was in my 20s and 30s, renovating my first house, it was not uncommon to see a dozen sheets of drywall and a stack of 2×4’s in the main hallway.  A lot of this was due to economics and practicality:  Not having a vehicle, I was dependent on lumber yard delivery trucks to bring materials home.  It just made more sense to buy everything at once, even if it would take months to use it all up, because then I’d only have to pay one delivery charge..

One house and 30 or so years later, I still do work on my home but the piles of materials aren’t as obvious.  I usually do a just-in-time purchase of several boards when they’re actually needed, but out in the garage there’s a cache of larger items — mostly drywall, which is heavy and easily breakable, something I wouldn’t even attempt to bring home on the roof of my car.  A couple of sheets are left over from a previous delivery; four more are from a batch I picked up on the return trip from the city dump, because I wanted to make the most of the pickup truck I had rented for the day.

Unfortunately, having is not the same as using.  Renovation is a multifaceted, long-haul endeavour with stops and starts and second-guessing and days when you don’t even want to think about drywall or 2×4’s, so materials in the garage don’t get used in a timely manner.

Despite that, the work somehow does get done eventually.  I take advantage of moments of high energy and enthusiasm when there’s a particularly daunting task to do, and the rest of the time goes to prep work that makes the big tasks possible — for example, pulling a dozen nails to make ready for new wallboard.

The struggle will continue as long as there are materials in the garage to use up and projects to work on, but every once in a while I pause to admire the work that’s been completed, and say “I can do this.”

How travel changes us

It’s taken about four days, but I think I’ve finally recovered from the final item on my list of 2018 goals:  Write.  Play.  Travel.  My destination was Calgary, and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) 2018 General Assembly.

I tend to overthink when going on a trip.  I lie in bed doing mental rehearsals:  What to pack?  Cab or bus to the airport?  What chores need to be done before departure (mow grass, stock pantry, transfer money between accounts)?

And then I get off a plane in an unfamiliar place with carry-on luggage (a small knapsack and a messenger bag or a purse), and start knocking off the trip objectives one by one. Continue reading “How travel changes us”

Take a minute to unload

Ever been working on a project, but had trouble focusing because other things kept popping into your mind?

  • What should I make for that potluck on Sunday?
  • Don’t I have a dentist appointment sometime next week?
  • Looks like it might rain tomorrow.  Got to mow the grass when I get home tonight.

This is a form of multitasking, but it’s comprised of one main task being interrupted by reminders of tasks that you can’t actually work on. Continue reading “Take a minute to unload”

But it’s so much fun having bad habits!

There are a lot of things that can improve quality of life.  Get more sleep.  Meditate.  Exercise.  Eat a balanced diet.

The reality:  Very often we don’t do these sensible things because we’re busy doing the exact opposite.  One more cat video before bedtime.  Sit quietly?  No, I’ve got things to do and places to be (but not the gym — maybe tomorrow, when I’m not so tired).  And while I’m at it, might as well finish that last bit of ice cream in the freezer.  Waste not, want not. Continue reading “But it’s so much fun having bad habits!”

Focus, relax, repeat

I’ve come to an odd conclusion:  I should have been my Grade 8 typing teacher.  (Come to think of it, if I had also been my Grade 3 piano teacher it would have spared me a lot of wasted time and frustration and heartache.)

I’ve been fussing about with keyboard-type devices since elementary school, but it took many years to come to an undeniable epiphany:  It takes just as long to hit the right key as it does to hit the wrong one.  Until fairly recently my typing could be described as “dirty”:  flail away and hit about 98% of the right letters, pausing to fix the wrong ones and then carrying on for another 98%. Continue reading “Focus, relax, repeat”