Sixteen Tons

How do you feel about your job? Do you spring out of bed, looking forward to work? Or, is your job a soul-destroying monotony of pure drudgery, or somewhere in between?

No longer do I have to do anything. I no longer work for a living. I am retired and receive a little cheque every month to keep me going.  I still am paying a mortgage since a divorce occurred about five years ago.

It may sound great, but in actuality, I must work hard to keep food on the table. Gardening has become a necessity during the few months of warm weather we call summer. Berry picking is also important.  I am like a bear except I don’t eat until I am full and fat.  Maybe, I am more like a squirrel, which prepares for the long, cold winter months, by storing nuts and other staples they require when the ground is covered with snow and frozen stiff.

I find canning is the best way to preserve. A couple of times, this winter, my grandchildren accidently unplugged my freezer. Had I not needed something out of the freezer, everything would have spoiled.

Last spring, I decided to go off grid. I have a cook stove, which keeps me warm, can be used to cook and bake, and also heats my water. I just shut off all the breakers except for the fridge, freezer and water. My smallest bill was twenty-seven dollars. Not bad, compared to about a hundred dollars or more. I was quite pleased. But my mum complained because I also shut the phone and Internet off. Therefore, nobody could call me or make any contact. I read a lot during that period.

About two months later, my mum insisted that I get the phone back up and running. She was not feeling well, and decided to come and live with me.

A couple of things happened previously during my break from the world.

I locked myself out of the house by accident. Smashing a basement window with an axe allowed me to enter the basement, but then I realized I couldn’t get to the main floor. I remained in the basement suite until my children came home for the weekend…. only a couple of hours, but it seemed long at the time. Damp, chill spread over my body. Neither blankets nor sweaters could I locate to warm my now aching bones. When a knock sounded, I almost broke into tears.

My grandson, aged four at the time, crawled up a ventilation hole under the upstairs fridge, and unlocked the door. His father managed to push the fridge far enough from the wall, lift his tiny-framed body up, so the little fellow could get through.  What a Godsend.

The other predicament I found myself in at a different time–my other grandson was born the day before in the same month and was coming home from the hospital. I wanted to go and wait for the grand arrival with other family members, but… My car wouldn’t start. Battery dead! I walked the floor thinking what could be possible options. I couldn’t let anybody know. Then a thought came. I wonder if the garden tractor could charge the battery. I connected the cables, started the lawnmower, jumped into the seat of the car, and sure enough, the charge took. What a relief.

Working long hours in the garden, tilling and sowing, weeding and hoeing is good exercise. I don’t need to buy an exercise bike. Running back and forth to pick the produce, once it’s ready, and going into the woods to pick berries keeps me fit in the summer.

Piling wood for the stoves also keeps me fit. Perhaps, winter is my downfall. I don’t have a lot of physical work to keep fit. I only carry armfuls of wood indoors, because I need it every second day. I could shovel snow, but since just before Christmas, my daughter and son-in-law live in the basement suite. He does the outdoor furnace and all the shoveling and snowblowing.

Do I miss work? Not a bit. I don’t have to deal with people who are rude, gossipy, and into themselves.

I may have to struggle financially, but I am one happy bird.

8 thoughts

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