A theory on why I never get enough done in a day

by Lorin Michel Thursday, December 17, 2015 7:39 PM

Nearly every night I say this to my husband: “I am forever amazed by the sheer amount of sh!t I don’t get done in a day.” It’s the kind of phrase that is simply a statement, not meant for discussion. If it was a question, it would be rhetorical. I am forever amazed. I am also forever amazed that it seems to happen almost daily. The frequency of my not-getting-doneness has increased exponentially. 

I said it last night as I was shaking my head. I was practically muttering, like an old person walking down the street looking down at the sidewalk, talking to herself incoherently. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like an old person mostly because I’m not sleeping well and not sleeping well can make a person feel ancient. Kevin was walking from the kitchen to his office. I was at the other end of the bar, looking at my never-ending to do list, shaking my head in disbelief, knowing that I wouldn’t sleep again because I’m not getting enough done in any given day. He stopped. He turned. He came back to the bar and placed his hands on the edge, like he was at a lectern.

“It’s more than amazing,” he said. “It’s disgusting. What do we do all day that enables us to never get anything done?”

We started talking about what it is that allows us to start work at 7 am and work through until at least 6:30 pm, with a short break for lunch, and still not complete enough to make us feel accomplished come quittin’ time, a time in this house which is a bit of a misnomer because we don’t ever truly quit until it’s time to go to bed. 

So what is it?

It could be that there's too much to do. It could also be that I haven't been sleeping well which leads to interruptions in concentration also known as brain fog, a malady made even worse because of hot flashes. Power surges. 

Perhaps it's that I'm easily distracted. Ooh. Shiny! Or that we get pulled into different expected and unexpected projects. Yesterday the expected project was the installation of our solar system. We knew that it was happening, hence the expected, but there were still conversations we needed to have with the installers, things we needed to move, to approve. It took up at least 3 hours of our time. Today it was getting Lorin a new computer. Best Buy was having a flash sale and since I’ve been considering it for some time, we thought now might be ideal. It was the best price we’d seen on the MacBook Pro that I want. But it takes time to discuss and to make the decision. Do we really want to spend the money? Should I try to limp along with my current machine which admittedly has issues? And then, after the discussion had worn down, there was the time it took to buy it, even online. There's a process. You have to create an account, enter all of your pertinent information, decide which card to use. Do I want it shipped or should we go get it? What about software?

There are any number of reasons why each day ends without me feeling especially accomplished; with me repeating the same tired phrase. All of the above are good and valid. But I have a theory. I think the real reason is this:

I’d really rather be sitting in my Adirondack chairs, enjoying the view and living it out loud.

A morning at the beach

by Lorin Michel Sunday, August 2, 2015 10:06 PM

My mother’s friend Gregg loves to buy houses. Over the course of the 30 some years they’ve been together, he has bought and restored at least six. Some he has also gone on to resell. The first one, where my mother met him, was an old school house on a hill in Amherst. He made it into a lovely, eclectic little house. My mother lived there with my younger sister for a while.

When she moved into that, he bought an old Federal style house in Wilton and restored it to its former glory. It sat impossibly close to the road as many New England houses do because it’s easier to shovel out in the winter. He eventually sold both of those pieces of property.

He bought an old barn in Greensboro and turned it into a home. It’s an amazing place, with a number of garages on the bottom level, a main floor with a living/great room and kitchen, and a powder room. On one end is a screened porch looking out over his 22 or more acres including the pond; on the other end is a huge glass slider. The barn doors are still there, too, and serve to close the house off to the world. In the winter, it helps keep the warm in and cold out. Upstairs are two bedrooms and two baths. The master bedroom is open to the great room below, making it almost loft-like.

Adjacent to the property is a small cabin. When that came on the market, he bought that, too, remodeling it to make it a weekend getaway for folks traveling through the area. He only rented it out that way a couple of times. Eventually he put full-time renters in it. It’s small, one room in the front serving as the living space and bedroom, then a kitchen and a bath. A stream gurgles nearby.

In both of these properties he has numerous antique amusement park rides, an old Chevy from the 1930s, an old Mazda RX7 from the early 1980s, and other pieces. In the living spaces, authentic time pieces, antiques, are the norm. He’s going to sell these properties because of a recent purchase up in Maine. It’s the first time he’s ventured out of New Hampshire.

He also bought an old business building in Wilton that he has transformed into a house. It sits on a river as well, one that rushes by and gathers with melting snow and falling rain. The train runs impossibly close. My brother rents this house and he’s happy as can be.

Most of Gregg’s houses have been very typical of what you might find in New England. Old, historic, surrounded by lots of trees, parts of a postcard you drove through once or saw in a Norman Rockwell retrospective. But the house he just bought, in South Berwick, Maine is decidedly different. And it is this house that seems to have captivated him the most.

I don’t know Gregg that well. For as long as he has been around our family, he remains somewhat of an enigma to me because I have always lived far away. I am not there for the Christmas Eves or the 4th of Julys. I hear about what he’s doing from my mother. When I’m home during my once a year pilgrimages, we go to one of his houses. For years, it was the barn. Now it’s the Maine house.

It’s situated on the river that separates New Hampshire from Maine. From his property, you can see Dover. He looked for something on the coast for quite a while but couldn’t find anything he liked for what he wanted to spend. This house came available and he bought it before it hit MLS.

Other than being in Maine, what sets this house apart is that it’s contemporary. A single story, hard wood floors, lots of windows, a sleek design, built not that long ago. They both love it, my mom and Gregg. He’s been doing a bit of stuff but it didn’t need any remodeling, just some touches. One of those touches was mucking out a cove at the river’s edge. By doing that, he created a beach. He has since emptied a number of sand bags onto his newly formed beach. My mother purchased several small chairs and a table. They sit down there, feet in the sand, watching the summer boats dash across the river, the kayakers row to and fro; the birds.

I thought of them this morning as Kevin and I sat on our “beach,” our deck, in our beach chairs, our Adirondacks, watching our birds, listening to our waves. It was just another morning at the beach, and worth celebrating.

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live out loud

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