As a photographer builds a house…

Nailing in boards before roofing tin goes down.

Nailing in boards on a shed before roofing tin goes down.

Before I started this blog I told myself, “Self, once you start this you’ve got to stick with it and post at least once a week.” Having read from a number of sources – and having seen in my own blog reading experience – the greatest misstep that most bloggers make is infrequent posting. I was determined not to suffer that same fate. And yet I have.

May God have mercy on a blogger who restarts his efforts with the best of intentions.

For the past several months, I have allowed my focus to be centered on one thing, to the exclusion of nearly everything else in my life – the repair and remodeling of our home.

When we bought our house ten years ago, we knew it would need a lot of work. Built in the 1930s, it had been neglected for the most part for 15+ years before we acquired it. The couple we purchased it from owned it for two years with a plan to turn their lives from urban-dwellers to the “Green Acres” (farm livin’ is the life for me…) idyll. They had started with the tearing out stage of the work but had done very little rebuilding. Although an enormous (for this house) heating/AC unit had been installed, there was no running water to the house and, much to our chagrin, no working septic system.

But after an initial push to get the house habitable, we let the rest of the work go. Our reasoning was that we could tackle the other projects in more bite-sized chunks that would not overwhelm us. We invested a considerable amount of time for the first couple of years on construction of outbuildings and other infrastructure needed to bring the place back to a working farm. We had our own vision of “Green Acres” to live out. With all the resources we were pouring out, little of it was directed at our living space.

I restarted the remodeling efforts this past winter with the reasoning that I could do it in half or one day projects around other on-going commitments. Whooo-boy was I delusional! Trying to do the work alone while attempting to make all of my scheduled meetings and events, make some advances on the social media fronts, produce new photographs for my website and other marketing efforts, and even maintain a modicum of contact with friends and family quickly devolved into nothing being done well, if at all.

I decided to hire some additional help to make the process go faster but realized that anyone who could be relied on needed consistent work to keep them available. So, I made the decision that for the short term – a month or so – I would drop everything except for the projects at hand. If I was ever going to get them done, I just needed to “git ‘er done!” But as one project opened up another, several weeks became several months.

Although I’m quite familiar with the “But first…” principle, nothing I’ve experienced reveals it like a home repair project. The principle is simply, “I want to get this done, but first, I need to do this and this and this.”

Just one area where “But first” raised it’s head was in the decision to paint the outside of the house. The process led us through scraping/sanding the clapboard siding, replacing  much of the siding from years of neglect, replacing the sills on several windows, adding soffits and fascia boards to cover exposed rafters, repairing the foundation, replacing the front door and several other “But first” tangents.

I know we are not done yet. The work of home ownership involves a lot of home-“moaning” about the next set of projects to be tackled. In addition to the house projects, I’ve also revisited several of the out-building and fencing jobs that continue to need attention. But we are at a point where, I believe, projects can be bitten off and completed in smaller chunks.

I may still be delusional.

However, if there is one thing that I can point to as being particularly redeeming about the past several months – in addition to having a more ordered place to live and work – is that physical labor provides me ample time to think. About work in general. About my work and why I choose to do it. About relationships in business and personal arenas and how they overlap.

There is a saying that states “As a carpenter builds a house, the house builds the carpenter.”  I believe that the processes of construction, farming, gardening, cooking, etc. have analogies for our daily lives. Over the next few months I hope to continue to share some of my thoughts on how this remodeling period is shaping my work and relationships.

As I’ve written in the ‘About’ section, the posts from here forward will involve more personal insights and observations. As always, I’d appreciate having your comments. I’d love for this to be a conversation.

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