So I think after 12 years of marriage and a new life “back in the country,” I’m finally getting the hang of it.
That is a strange thing to say, but for a large part of our life together, especially the last few years, I’ve had a part-time marriage. I worked full time, and as Tim worked for various agencies, he had random days off. We rarely spent time together. Since we bought the farm, (literally folks,) it was even stranger as I lived here and he was at his duty station for days on end.
When Tim worked in the city the last few years, I really only worried about my own laundry — he handled his. The dogs were sometimes with one or the other of us; sometimes they were separated. We had only a few meals together each week; the rest of the time we each could enjoy whatever we wanted.
Now I’m getting the hang of it! These days things are a little different. We live 15 minutes or so from a gas station and place to pick up milk, but if we need more than that, it’s a trip “to town.” So planning is the backbone of our new life. I commute to the city to work once a week, which means planning ahead with our dog walker. That’s the night Tim always cooks dinner, too. It’s the little things that define my new normal.
Laundry is a little tougher.
There is a lot of it for just two people. We garden and I can foods, both of which lead to an inordinate amount of stains! Tim generally takes it down to the basement for me. I usually run a load first thing each morning. If I have time, I hang it out to dry before telework starts at 8:00; otherwise, I spend part of lunch at the clothesline. After work, I take it down, fold it, and put it away.
Now, I am not saying Tim doesn’t do laundry anymore. It makes more sense for me to do it since I’m here, but sometimes I spend laundry time watering the garden, or I get caught up crocheting a dishcloth, or I’m napping :-) Tim still has plenty of laundry time!
We have four pets all of the time.
Everywhere you go, there’s a dog or cat underfoot. I often wish we had children, but when I have a hard time getting just from our bedroom to the kitchen, I’m glad there are only four little ones running around. Even the pets have a new rhythm, though. The dogs are upstairs when I work during the day. Sophie is still enough of a puppy that she makes a fair bit of racket during the day. With her upstairs and my office door closed, it’s easy for me to “go to work” by closing the door. The cats relax on the stairs (for some odd reason) while I work.
Meals aren’t spur of the moment.
One thing I miss…and don’t miss…about living in the city? Impromptu dinner plans. On days I worked there, too, Tim would call to ask how my day was going. Some days I would just get a bad filling in the pit of my stomach waiting for him to ask, “so what do you want to do for dinner?” We just didn’t plan ahead. Often Tim would grill, or we’d have salads, or I’d cook up some random piece of meat or pasta, but we didn’t take the time to plan and stick to a plan for eating. This also was often the first step towards picking up a pizza from Brixx, grabbing pulled chicken from Dixie Bones, or relying on burgers from Five Guys.
Nowadays we plan our meals for at least 7 days. We have a freezer full of chicken and beef (and some pork) from J&L Green Farm, a beyond-organic farm that is hyperlocal at about 8 minutes from my door. I have a stocked pantry and a well-stocked root cellar.
I even pulled out the pizza stone for homemade pizza — I forgot how much I loved cooking pizza! I don’t make perfect dough circles, but I figure if I do it about once a week for the rest of my life (and why the heck not?) then I’ll probably get better at it. I even (gasp) grilled a pizza!
Speaking of grilling, I’m teaching myself to smoke and grill! I still work 5 miles from Dixie Bones once a week, so I can turn to it when I need to, but today I smoked and pulled chicken breasts. They stayed moist and were ready within an hour. And why put home-smoked chicken on flimsy buns…so I made those great King Arthur homemade buns.
I haven’t tackled the burger yet, but Tim is phenomenal with a bison burger, so I’m leaving that up to him. In fact, tomorrow night is bison night, and I bet those burgers are pretty good on homemade buns.
So after all these years, I’m getting the hang of marriage. We are finding a new rhythm together of taking care of house and home, and it’s fun getting to know each other again. We used to spend a few hours most evenings watching TV, often eating takeout pizza while listening to the dryer run and the dogs bark.
Now we eat at the table while talking about our day. The dryer isn’t hooked up, the pizza is homemade, and the dogs — well, they are still barking, but they are still finding their new normal, too :-)*** This personal blog is comprised solely of the opinions, views, projects, and travels of its author, Stacey Morgan Smith. She is lucky enough to have loving family and friends whom she drags along with her on her adventures and whom she puts to work on her little farm. She uses this blog to help promote living in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, from Roanoke to the Potomac River.**