Archives for August 2013
R is coming home today. In his car, he is bringing: his guitar, some laundry, supplies to build a home cheese press, a 90-year old neighbor, a dozen ears of corn, and a little blue cooler with two gallons of raw milk that will be purchased enroute.
When we sold the Salt Lake house, we had a fuzzy vision that I would split my time in the city and the ranch. Things did not turn out that way. We had a hard time finding anyone reliable to do our irrigation turns. Then we decided to plant apples. That quickly got out of hand. The cats really resented commuting. And I don’t miss the city the way I expected.
So I am here nearly full-time. And R still has his lab, a dozen students and staff, three federal grants and a guitar teacher that has transformed his playing. And he has 200 fruit trees, eight chickens and three goats (yes, we are going to get a wether too) on order. Keeping this circus act juggling up in the air AND entertaining has taken some practice and some new tools.
Put it on the calendar: I became a Mac fan-girl in 1993; R was late to the party but now surpasses me in rabid Team Apple support. With all our gear, phones, tablets, computers, we still sit down every few weeks and put our schedule (mine, his and the irrigation turns) onto an old-school, color-coded calendar. Writing it out together helps id the days we to find a cat and chicken-sitter, how many joint projects we can accomplish, and generally helps avert crises-in-the-offing. So far we haven’t committed the sin of missing an irrigation.
“Can you put that in Dropbox?” When we were planning the move, I was campaigning for a server. I was predicting dire emergencies where I would need stuff on my desktop machine in Torrey while in Salt Lake. It hasn’t happened, largely because I discovered Dropbox*, a cloud storage service that works beautifully with the Apple products. It appears to act like a regular folder in the OS, but anything I put in it is available on any device. And you can share folders with other users.
R and I have a shared folder where we save anything household- or orchard-related. There’s a sub-folder called “Digital Safe Deposit Box” where I have scanned all of our insurance, deeds, financials. Another folder has a scan of my handwritten recipe book. The orchard variety map is in there, PDFs on fruit grafting and pruning, hotel confirmations and extra baby photos of the goats. We can easily and asynchronously transfer huge amounts of data to one another.
R has a paid account because he is also using it to manage laboratory data flow. I haven’t needed one yet, but I won’t hesitate to pay when I run out of space. I also use it to back up my Lightroom catalog in my 3-2-1 process, which takes up a lot of my allocation, but so far Dropbox has saved us the expense and the overhead of running a dedicated server.
Make an (Ever)note: I have flitted between paper and electronic organizing systems for years and nothing has ever stuck. I’d heard about Evernote when I was looking for GTD tools, but I tried something else that didn’t work and went back to paper. For some reason, I finally looked into Evernote a few months ago. I downloaded a trial and was hooked. My GTD awesomeness factor is still sadly rated as “underperforming,” but Evernote rocks.
Like Dropbox, it works seamlessly with all our devices, and like Dropbox, we can share notes and collections (notebooks) of notes. It can save entire webpages, like the instructions for building the cheese press, so when R got to Bigbox orange hardware store, he had the parts list on his phone. A copy of the irrigation schedule resides there, along with measurements for a patio we plan to build, an itinerary for a trip to Colorado next month, and lists of seeds I need to order.
Most frequently updated is the “Bring me/Buy me” list, with its subheadings of things to pick up at the hardware store, the grocery, Tony Caputo’s, Costco, wherever one of us will be passing at some point in the future. We can’t get Mango’s hypo-allergenic catfood at the local grocery. If we go to Richfield (an hour away), we try to run a bunch of errands at once. But mostly it is me asking him to bring me goodies, like good parmesan cheese.
I didn’t grow any cukes this year, grocery store cukes are nasty, and I wanted to make pananzella at least once this summer. Last week I canned corn salsa; this week I am freezing corn for winter chowders. We do all the laundry here; the hangers have a way of congregating in Salt Lake. IFA is one of our regional farm stores that happens to carry organic chicken feed in the Sugarhouse branch. If I forget to order it in to our local store, he picks it up there. In the end, it’s just a list of stuff that makes up everyday life, aggregated into one place we both can rely on. And it works.
Happiness is contained in a blue cooler: he stops at the Real Food store in Orem for raw milk. Unbelievably, Utah is one of the last bastions of a liberal food policy that allows consumers the choice to buy raw milk. We have been making our own mozzarella for months now, using Ricki’s supplies and instructions. It has become our reconnecting ritual: I make pizza dough while R starts heating the milk. We talk, sip a little wine, eat a hand-crafted meal together the first night he is home.
I cook large when he is here: crockpot stews, massive BBQ spreads, casseroles. We invested in a bunch of Ikea food storage containers, into which I portion out single servings and freeze. I try to get ahead, so there are lots of variety to choose from. When R leaves, I pack the cooler with frozen dinners and extra eggs for the lab folks. I start adding to the list again, and won’t cook much until he comes back with the blue cooler.
The AT&T cellular tower is a block away from the ranch: Apparently AT&T rented space in the firehouse tower for its cellular antenna. The signal here is outstanding, whatever its source, much better than at the stinking condo in Salt Lake. We have used our fair share of its bandwidth. Texting is easier during the day with meetings and chores it’s not easy to break away to talk. And I can send photos, like the Ameraucana’s first egg (dark green!) or silly LOL cats (Mango liked the hammock). It’s not the same as being here, but the nightly phone calls and the texts help us stay connected.
Tonight we will not have to talk on the phone. We might not make pizza either, because we are branching out into hard cheese and that takes longer, too much to do both in the same weekend. We will husk corn, eat yard food, do laundry, take Slate for a walk in the orchard and enjoy the time together, because early next week, we start all over again. This commuter marriage business is not ideal, but we are lucky to be able to pursue our dreams and goals with mutual support and as much time together as we can steal. We’re using everything we can to make it work.
*If you sign up for a free Dropbox account via this referral link, Dropbox will give me an additional 500 MB of much-appreciated storage space.