Haven’t wrote about programming/development work I’m doing in a long time. I’ll spare you the details but want to share a thought about the “in-between limbo.” When you work on a project for say 8 months, it’s hard to finish it and it’s hard to move on. This is especially true when it is R&D (but house projects, community projects, and others share much in common too). For me, R&D generally means I’m presented with a problem, usually having to do with understanding how water moves on the planet, and then I must solve it, usually through scientific computing (programming).
In the past, it was water and things in the ocean. Nowadays, it’s water falling on, accumulating on, and moving over the land. What makes it so hard is that there is always more that could be done. And as you do more, especially things you didn’t envision doing when you started, the complexity and expansiveness of the project grows. And then you have to write about it. Fortunately I have a draft paper that I’ve polished several times. But it’s not finished. Really, it can’t be: there are countless things I could do more of, better, and more thoroughly.
So now I’m moving on. I have to. My hope is that by diving into something new, I gain new momentum on the next thing I have to do. At the same time, I think standing back from the old project will allow me to return to it with fresh eyes and the fortitude to call it “good enough.” It would be great if the old project was done and I could never think about it again— but I don’t really see that as my job description and when I really think about projects having finite boundaries it kind of bores me. All this helps me rationalize that I’m OK with imperfect completion and that productivity demands that I’m OK with it.
I am really loving Pinterest. It’s a set of online bulletin boards. Any image I find online that I want to save (i.e., things that “interest” me), I “pin” onto one of my boards with a little comment. It stays linked to the source from which it was pinned, so I can always go back and see the context. Pinterest users can peruse each others’ boards and re-pin images. It’s great for collecting little bits of inspiration as I find them, and I think it’s also helping me see what kinds of things I’m drawn to.
The other day, Matt and I were discussing whether to tile our fireplace surround when we re-tile the hearth (more on that soon). We already knew we wanted to build some kind of facade out of wood to cover most of the brick, but we weren’t envisioning the same dimensions. So I brought up my Pinterest “house interior” board and we looked at a few photos of fireplaces I collected over the last few weeks. We talked about which features we each like and don’t like, and we came up with a plan that works for both of us. You can probably make a good guess about what we’re going to do with the hearth by looking at my pins. Bonus: we are planning to use the same material by our front door. What is it? Stay tuned…
(Photo from Huffington Post)
- Sherry and John of Young House Love. They are so creative and thrifty, and their design ideas are just amazing. I read their blog daily and it always makes me want to do more projects.
- contributors to instructables.com
- contributors to Ikea Hackers
- the guy who has been building a huge cathedral from salvaged materials in Spain for the last 50 years after illness forced him to quit being a monk
- people we know (but you cannot look them up on the internet): Sarah, Eva, Aly & Tim, my aunt Kathy & uncle Roger, cousins Dustin & Britni, our neighbors Robbie and Kurt & Martha, and many others too numerous to list
- so many others! Tommy Silva on This Old House. People who read and contribute to Mother Earth News.
Thanks for the inspiration, and especially thanks to those who take the time to share their knowledge.
p.s. If you don’t recognize Captain Hammer in the photo above, may I suggest you rectify that situation by watching Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog here via Hulu or Netflix streaming if you have Netflix.
While I read Consumer Reports about windows and weed whackers, scour the internet for everything from rescue dogs to fireplace inserts to free building supplies, and contact people to gather info and estimates, Matt continues to get stuff done with a vigor that makes my “research” feel woefully inadequate. This illustrates our divergent styles: I do a lot more thinking/researching/planning, while Matt jumps in and starts working. That’s not to say Matt doesn’t plan or that I don’t get anything done, but we do divide our time differently among parts of the process. There are merits to both. Projects going smoothly, and conversely mistakes due to lack of preparation, reinforce my proclivity towards planning. But there is something to be said for getting in there and making it happen. The time series below in which Matt builds two new slightly raised beds in the backyard shows only one of many Matt projects that seem to spring up on a daily basis. He’s a wonder!
… and he even made a little friend.
Matt is now working full time, and yet accomplishes amazing things outside every day after work and on the weekends. He’s grown and harvested many delicious salads, strawberries, and more from his P-patch garden and our ever-expanding home garden.
In the back yard, two new raised beds have appeared this week, while the front yard loses grass to planting beds on a weekly basis. I can’t even keep up in pictures! I’m loving having veggies growing at home. Nothing beats lettuce and herbs you picked 5 minutes before dinner.
Some day, the yard won’t be a construction site. It’s so worth it though! The fence is looking fantastic.
Eventually, Matt will post something. In the meantime, it’s hard to be too mad about his blog silence when he’s working so hard and getting so much done. Hubby, you make me want to be more productive.
Thomas Friedman’s NYTimes op-ed piece, This Time Is Different, gives us some food for thought on who’s to blame for the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He quotes a friend’s letter to the editor suggesting that it’s up to each of us to make changes in our lives to reduce our use of fossil fuels - a sort of DIY energy independence philosophy. Friedman goes on to talk about our responsibility as citizens to engage in the political process to create policies aimed at making our nation more sustainable. Maybe we need both approaches: do-it-yourself and do-it-together, but I tend to think every big change starts with the individual. I’m always amazed at the creative energy saving innovations people have come up with. Mother Earth News and instructables.com let people share their ideas, successes, and failures with creative DIY projects, many of which have a sustainability focus (even if in many cases, “green” is more a byproduct of saving money than a goal in itself). This Old House and Danny Lipford also have some great tips for reducing energy consumption at home.