I’ve realized something over the past few weeks of trying to do too much with too little: the phrase “my plate is full” doesn’t account for the size of the plate, nor for its strength. A foot-wide stoneware platter can comfortably hold much more than one of the flimsy dollar-store paper models, and right now I feel as though I have baked beans and cole slaw in my lap.
I mentioned in a recent post (but of course I can’t find it now to link here) that my schedule and circumstances had changed, namely that My Dear Wife was buried under a mountain of schoolwork and I had taken a part-time job to help with the finances. Well, those two changes were enough to spin me right out of orbit. My job overtook the weekdays when I used to study and write; dinner preparations, homework supervision, bedtime enforcement, and sporadic bouts of housework consumed my evenings. By the time things were calm enough for me to hit the books, I was ready to hit the sheets instead. Lights out by midnight or so; up again at 6:30 to roust The Boys and ready breakfast. Research? Reading? Charts, models, and maps? Not so much. The feelings of frustration and loss of control over my days grew into some deeper, darker thing that began to gnaw away at me from the inside, like termites invisibly weakening an oak tree.
I’ve kept up, after a fashion, with the work of the project: tracking food waste, tallying our grocery volume and cost, teasing out our socio-economic status. I managed to get a day off from work to go grocery shopping, too. But then something happened that hadn’t in a long time: I overshot the runway on grocery spending.
This was the first month of our new, much lower, monthly allotment; due to the income from my job, our grocery budget went down by $136 per month. In all the excitement over the one thing and the other, I lost track of how much we had available at the time I was shopping, and wound up missing the mark by ten dollars or more. I had to put some things back, which I haven’t had to do in years. This was last Wednesday. We get reimbursed this Wednesday, assuming the Agency got my paperwork in time. I can’t tell you how great it felt to be in that position, holding up the grocery line because I didn’t have enough funds to pay for what I had.
I’m kidding. It stunk.
Our plans for a garden this year have taken an unfortunate turn as well, considering that most of out starter seedlings have either grown moldy or simply failed to do anything at all. I still intend to do some sort of planting, but it seems obvious to me that we’re fools to try to rely on our green thumbs to feed us. Isn’t this how specialization developed in early human societies? Besides, I heard of a nearby CSA that charges $5 per week to low-income families…