Crofting – Two Places At Once

Laws of physics – they always work. Two objects cannot occupy the same space, one object cannot occupy two spaces. This applies to crofters as well as atoms.

I started a big batch of caraway rye bread. Rye bread is extra sticky! It’s one the reasons I don’t make it often. I got to the proofing stage, and was setting the bowl aside for a short rising when the dear husband came in from the barn to get my help. A person with low vision just isn’t going to get all things done by himself in an unlighted barn in overcast weather. So I set the bowl aside, planning to come back to it in afew minutes. I put a nice clean tea towel over it. This is what I thought I would have:

Textbook bread dough

And this is what I had, an hour later:


This is not.

The tea towel was just glued to the top of this mess. I said “D*mn!” and tossed the towel into a pan of cold water. I scraped bread dough from the counters and the side of the bowl. (It had not flowed onto the floor, mercifully.) I punched it down. I went back to the barn. We finished what we had started, and when we got back into the house, I worked in some white flour and managed to do this:

Bread rising on the warming shelf. Much better.

I am wary of letting Nicholas work with a circular saw alone. He has poor depth perception, and sometimes is unaware of what is around or under him. He was cutting a point on a stake yesterday, and I had to stop him, since he was using a stack of tires for a workbench. He was getting a bit carried away by focussing too much on the notch and not at all on whether the saw blade was going to catch the tire underneath. Hitting s steel belt radial with a circular saw is not a good idea. There is a workbench, but it does need some excavation to be useful. The former user of the workshop left it in a state somewhat similar to a packrat’s nest. And he was a mechanic, not a carpenter, so there is a lot of oil, spray cans, bits of belts and rubber and other car-related flotsam. Car guys usually have greasy stuff and bolts. Wood guys have sawdust and nails. Carpenters are usually easier to clean up after. We need to get some trash cans and a cool afternoon with the promise of beer and pizza when done. A lot of the artifacts out there require recycling and special handling, which may be why they are still there.

I want Nicholas to do this carpentry work, though. The first day was a failure. After more than an hour we had one 2×4 in place. I called a halt. The next day I started the work by cutting the lumber and predrilling holes. Nicholas came out to help assemble. Yesterday, he went to work without coaching or prompting, repaired the loose boards on the stall already built, and together we hung a better gate. He felt his self-confidence in his ability to do things grow.

Stall construction underway

I cannot bear the thought that he will give up on doing things he enjoys and which used to be second nature to him. Construction is one of those things; he was a construction manager for a few years; he is good at this. He helped his father build boats. He doesn’t have the stamina for more than a couple of hours of slow work now (and yes, I am praying for patience) and he tires quickly, but with my help he can get some work done and feel productive.

I have to step out of my old expectations of him and myself, and step into his place when we work on building or planting. It takes longer; tools get lost or dropped; I have to rig  extra light and aids for his balance. I have to consider that we may have to stop well before things are finished, and come back to them later. My temptation is to just rush in, get it done, and say to him, “Oh, it’s okay, you didn’t need to do it.” But he does need to do it, for himself and for me. He still “sees” ways to do things I can’t. He is being forced to work parts of his memory that are damaged, and I can just gently facilitate that brain work. He’ll never be able to work in construction again, but this small scale work that can take a couple of weeks to get finished keeps him active and motivated.

I am learning to adapt. I had enjoyed our early years together; he did all those things I didn’t like doing – taking the truck for oil changes, repairs and new tires, for instance. He managed the money and paid the bills, and did it very well. I had to do all those things when I was alone, and it was a luxury to me to be able to focus on the home itself. He never could cook, so I have always done that, and enjoyed it. I had time for sewing and spinning.

The boundaries shifted in our relationship with his stroke. Thanks be to God, I did have experience managed the household finances, and I have been driving since I was a teenager. I have degrees and skills that can be turned into employment. I was not overwhelmed by the seachange in our marriage. We had times of mourning what was lost, but two years later, we are rejoicing that we are team, that Nicholas was not more disabled by the stroke, and that God continues to bless us here.

Our version of Valhalla - the hero's reward.


11 thoughts on “Crofting – Two Places At Once

  1. Thank you so much for all you wrote here, which serves as encouragement and good example as well as simply the sharing of your life. I am myself learning to know and accept some new realities. I have wanted so badly to spring clean my small house in one busy weekend, as I always did. Monday (this was all I did) I took down the curtains of 5 windows, washed and ironed and hung them again. Tuesday I was in bed all day recovering from that. Today I did just ONE window, and have been okay, but couldn’t do the grocery shopping and had to send my husband. To think of the work I used to get done in a day! I am 35 years old with MS and was not expecting, of course, something like this just yet. But my 80 year old mother, now quite disabled after a bad fall 2 years ago, still laments and mourns over the hard work she enjoyed over her long lifetime, and would still be doing if she could! So I see that it is an challenging adjustment for all of us and loved ones included.

    God bless you two there crofting and in all of life. 🙂

    • I was like that when I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I don’t have a name for you via your email, but will hold you in prayer.

    • It turned out well but took a long time to bake through, partly because I forgot to change the flue direction when I put it in the woodstove. We had it with supper – it was quite good.

  2. I like your proofing shelf that they built in as part of your oven.

    I have a hubby with bad vision also. Riding as a passenger while he is driving can be a harrowing experience.

    My hubby doesn’t know how to cook. Cooking to him is opening a can of ready made soup and nuking it. He is totally dependent on me feeding him, when he is totally capable of learning how.

    • Mine has no license now; his neurologist had to report his inadequate vision to DMV. Bu the has no sense of direction anymore, anyway. The stroke took that and his sense of time. If he can’t see the house, he gets lost. And he can’t tell if ten minutes or two hours have passed. He notices the first, but not the second.

  3. Such an interesting post – and thy comments here too. My heart went out to thee for the cleaning up of all that overflowed sticky dough – especially what was stuck to the cloth; oh, glory!

    • I soaked the sticky cloth in cold water – it dissolves the gluten; if you use hot water it kind of cooks it and makes it worse. Nicholas did get the frame for the new stall finished, and we will finish it tomorrow.

  4. I have a close relative who is quite disabled (which is how I knew about the disability tax credits). I think it prepared me well for children. They are a little like the disabled in that way — they require patience and the humility to understand that the world doesn’t need to go at my pace.

  5. Our neighbor’s husband had a massive stroke a year ago, he lost most of his swallowing reflex, and can only have tube feedings, his speech was also affected and he is very difficult to understand, he uses a walker to get around. It has really taken a toll on his wife, suddenly she had to manage absolutely everything, then add to that the stress of medical bills, it is at times overwhelming. It is a huge adjustment when a once healthy spouse is suddenly disabled. I think it is wonderful that you have many opportunities in daily life where Nicholas can get the best therapy ever by being able to participate in necessary chores and feel that he is contributing and making a difference.

    PS Glad the bread turned out okay :0

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