Saturday, January 14, 2012

Choose Your Column: Analyzing Units of Measure

So I woke up bright and early this morning and came down to the kitchen to make the coffee (I hate making the coffee).  And I looked at the temperature and saw that it was 14 degrees and looked out the window to make sure Bryan plugged his truck in, and it occurred to me that my definition of "normal" has dramatically changed.

Bryan's truck needs to be plugged in because it has a block warmer.  I don't really understand why, or how it works.  His truck is not brand new, but was made after the year 2000 so one would think that someone would have improved diesel engine technology at some point, but when I ask questions, the answers I get cause my eyes to glaze over and remind me of why I didn't really care in the first place. And I've already explained that our home is heated by wood, and that we have two dogs.  So let's look at this equation:   a truck that must be plugged into an outlet  +  a home that is heated by a woodstove that must be "stoked" daily  +  two dogs  =  it is almost impossible to travel as a family in winter.

From what I have gathered MOST people who have an outdoor woodburner to heat their home also have a backup furnace in their house that runs on electricity.  But in case it has not been made painfully clear at this point, we are not most people. I used to be "most people" but my relationship with Bryan and my move to the country has moved me into the "not most people" column of the worksheet. Want to know what happened to our furnace?  Refer back to Little House on the Scrapyard.  We took it to the scrapyard for cash.  At some point during the household construction and remodeling I did question Bryan about a backup method of heating the house, and I don't remember what the answer was.  But obviously the answer was NOT "we'll have an electric furnace in the basement."  

So when we plan winter activities, this must be considered.  We now have to find someone who is willing to not only watch 2 dogs, but willing to drive to our rural residence which is an hour from anything that I would classify as fun or cool, and about twenty-five minutes from any food our fuel source (though this problem will be solved when we get Annabelle's chickens in the spring), but they must also be able to fill the woodstove 1-2 times per day depending on the temperature.

What makes this even more challenging is that all of our firewood was cut by Bryan. So we are not dealing with a cute little Martha Stewart armload of firewood here. We are dealing with TREE TRUNKS. I have yet to be put in the position of filling the woodstove, and I am certain I cannot lift any of the wood that Bryan cut.  I certainly hope it will not be a problem when Bryan returns home to find that I have filled the woodstove with used Kleenex. So it is becoming clear to me that we have to find someone willing to help us out if we want to travel together as a family unit in the winter.  And  what would the add to find such a person say?  Wanted: Reliable non-smoker with own transportation to house-sit in the country.  Must love dogs.  Must be able to lift 50 pounds.  And I suppose I need to be sure whatever poor soul who would want to do this for us has not read my blog.  I doubt people will be lining up to dogsit for a dog who throws up deer parts in our bed.

The journey from being "most people" to  "not most people" is a slow and gradual excursion, sometimes you don't even realize you've made the trip. Bryan, for example, made the trip over to the "not most people" column around the age of 3.  He doesn't even know he's in a different column.  Very often when Bryan and I are having a conversation and he counters one of my points with a statement that begins with "yeah, but I..." or even a "When I.." I immediately have to stop him and say "You are not the measuring stick."  It's not that I am eager to discount his opinion, it's simply that he lives by a different unit of measure than the rest of the planet.  But Bryan's world of logic and normal is perfect for those in the "not most people" column.

Before we were together Bryan knocked out one of his teeth. When I asked him how it happened (on our second first date) he said "Oh it was raining and I slipped on some cats."  See? Perfectly logical. He did not feel that statement required any further clarification or elaboration.  Most people would require more details attached to that story. Because this was our second first date (our first first date occurred approximately thirteen years ago) I was still living blissfully in the "most people" column and did have to ask for further explanation and was still left puzzled.  But now I reside in the "not most people" column and I have come to understand that there is always a barn cat hanging out at every entrance of this home, and they are a trip hazard.  And when it is raining they will pile up together on our front stairs under the overhang, and they really don't care if you need to use the stairs or not.  So it makes perfect sense to me that he slipped on some cats in the rain.  This is now my normal.

Last summer when Bryan and I were planning a trip to South Carolina he informed me that he wasn't going to wear sandals or swimming trunks.  The horror of being on a beach with a grown man wearing workboots and cutoff jean shorts was too much for my brain to process. His refusal to ever even be within 3 feet of a flip flop surprised me. Who hates flip flops?  But I thought my acceptance of his flip flop hatred was a fair compromise. I was wrong.  He was adamant that he would not wear a sandal of any kind.  I also was struggling with his boycott of swimwear. He didn't understand why he couldn't wear a workboot on the beach, and I didn't understand why he would want to.  So a large portion of my days were spent scouring the internet for some sort of woorkboot-based sandal, and men's swimwear that was not made of a "slippery, silky" material.  I never found something acceptable to him and we never reached agreement.  Unfortunately our beach trip was canceled because I decided it wouldn't be much fun to kayak in South Carolina in the July heat while i was seven months pregnant (when in actuality I called it off because I refuse to be seen on a beach with a man wearing workboots).  These types of conversations are my normal.  A special note to Bryan: do not confuse the issue.  The conversation is my normal...WORKBOOTS ON THE BEACH ARE NOT NORMAL BY ANYONE'S STANDARD AND NEVER WILL BE. Remember, you are not the measuring stick.

In fact I took a break from writing this just now to do some dishes. There was a frying pan with a spatula left on the stove. I picked up the spatula to find it had some sort of yellowish cement-like substance on it and I asked  Bryan "what did you use this for?" and he said "fried corn pies."  So I shrugged and took it over to the sink to begin chiseling at the spatula.  Most people would have responded with "What is a fried corn pie?"  and maybe "When did you make these?" and perhaps even taken it a step further and asked "Why is a 'fried corn pie' the consistency of concrete?" But we are not most people so I simply shrugged and walked away, never again wondering or caring what Bryan's definition of corn fried pies might be.

And workboots on the beach and "fried corn pies" in winter aren't the only indicators of which column we're in.  Since our home has been and will continue to be under perpetual construction, and after our trip to the scrapyard, I didn't even bat an eye that this is now a fixture in our front yard.
This is now my normal.

I know that use of the term "normal" is taboo and excludes people.  But I spend a lot of time identifying and defining normal.  And it was not until this morning when I started to think back upon the last couple of years of my life that it occurred to me that I had drifted into the other column. The shift was imperceptible to me, but noticeable to those close to me.  Slowly over time my social activities started to evolve from going to a Brewer game into moving firewood. Nights out at the bar with friends shifted into evenings at home watching the burn pile blaze and setting off fireworks.  Going to the movies is now a second choice to a trip to the scrapyard.  I am in the "not most people" column...and I never saw it coming.

If you would have asked me three years ago what my definition of fun was, what my definition of important was, and what my definition of normal was very different than what it is today. 
This is my normal. 


  1. I love reading this, I wish you write one eveyday! Teresa

  2. I don't recall you ever being "normal" and always knew you were destined for a life unlike "most people." Cudos (or kudos?) to Bryan for hating flip flops. They are horrible. your friend from jr. high. adam

  3. I enjoy your normal...or at least reading about it, not sure about living it. Although, if you can get my brother to cut the wood into pieces a "Normal person" could lift, I might be ok with the dogs, and the middle of nowhere...

  4. Hello! I am just stopping by to let you know that Kathy and I have awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award. Take a look: