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  • Writer's picturemarti mcginnis

The Dull Roar Of Life's Choices

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Me and Mikey with the pets in the garden room at Evanston circa 1999

I live with my almost-seventy year old husband on a small ranch in the middle of Mexico's central highlands. I'm putting on years too, though I feel pretty much like I did when I was in my twenties. Mostly. Every once in a while, though, the hazards of how we're living make themselves known.

Mike and I have a long history of pushing the limits of our pretty unremarkable suburban upbringings Together we've lived in just about every major housing option available to the typical middle class American:

  • inner city Chicago, gentrified and pre-gentrified options

  • progressive suburb of Evanston, IL

  • rural Kentucky in a 200 year old log home

  • and now a somewhat off-grid adobe abode in Guanajuato, Mexico

  • I lived for a year in a hut on a speck of an island in the middle of the south pacific too, but that experience predates my finding Mikey

Each of our homes has needed major renovations and involved a whole lot of upkeep. Our loft in Bucktown was the culmination of Mike's experience creating such places all over Chicago. The Evanston house was the repurposed offices of the guy who put in the sidewalks throughout that city back in the day. The visionary next owners, Major Harrison and his wife, Ruby, had loved to party and had created a sort of English pub atmosphere highlighting the color red (Ruby red to be clear) all throughout the house. The Major had done most of the renovation work himself, but lacked any real training, so it was all fairly slapdash which meant there were always a ton of things to fix. Mike did it all.

The living room of our Bucktown loft

When we moved into one of the first log houses ever built in Jessamine County, Kentucky, despite the fact it had been recently brought back to life, it, too, required a lot of Mike's handy attention. So when he wasn't spearheading the historic preservation at the nearby Shaker Village he was figuring out how to upgrade the HVAC at our place to geothermal and attend to all the other millions of maintenance tasks a structure built about 20 years after the American Revolutionary war required.

Mikey and me out front of DogTrot Hill, the 200+ year old log home in Jessamine County KY

It's either a sort of twisted storybook existence or a nightmarish one depending on your point of view.

And this is how we have lived. It's either a sort of twisted storybook existence or a nightmarish one depending on your point of view. To Mike and me it has always felt adventurous. But how do you know when your choices are becoming too much? Yesterday provided some insights. Mike was engaged all day trying to figure out an issue we're having getting water up to our place. He's a very persistent sleuth in these matters and will figure it out no matter how many people he needs to talk to, or how many trips to the local hardware store (it's own kind of adventure I assure you) it takes. But, like I said in the beginning, he's pushing into his seventh decade. He's healthy for sure, but all of this stuff takes a toll.

Then there's me. Though I clock in at just sixty three years old, I've built a life up here on our hill that provides a non-stop stream of chores I must attend to. Every. Single. Day. Most of these revolve around routine housekeeping (laundry hanging, hand dish washing cooking from scratch, etc.), the gardens I maintain and the 3 horses I keep.

Horses are not the easiest of God's creatures to keep healthy, let alone alive. You gotta keep a constant flow of roughage running through their 100 feet of delicate intestines. Not too high quality and not too low. And you must offer water 24/7. And that's just the daily stuff. Now look, I'm good at this. I've been doing it for 16 years with no casualties and usually no major hiccups.

My 3 hay burners. left to right, iota, MuMu and GoldenBoy

A bounty this glorious itself could attract a non-seasonal cloudburst just by being a target for it.

Recently I managed to acquire eighty bales of perfect hay, not too rich, not too stemmy. Just a beautiful stack of freshly cured grass hay up from Michoacan. That process took a full month of ever-changing information and logistics to manage, but in the end there sits this green-gold mountain in all it's tasty glory. Of course I covered it with a tarp even though it hasn't rained in months. The fact is, a bounty this glorious itself could attract a non-seasonal cloudburst just by being a target for it. So, yeah, it is tarped.

It's been windy. Very windy. So I had to go secure the edges of the tarp out in that wind. In addition to bungeying the edges to cement blocks at the corners, I also heaved a few extra blocks up onto the stack for additional security. As I was fooling around with one on the ground that dang wind gave a mighty gust that set one of the blocks sailing down, edge-first, onto my dumb noggin. Talk about seeing stars! I did that and felt nauseous. I managed to stumble into the pasture and lay down in the dust for twenty minutes rethinking my current life choices.

Mike is maybe nearing the outer limits of some of his corporeal abilities and I'm starting to get messages about mine, too. Mind you, I could have had a cement block fall on my head in this fashion at any age, but it does make you think.

Later that night as I contemplated the moon over the front field with the horses munching their fine hay or dozing in the light of the stars, the dull roar of a headache I had achieved gave me a reason to contemplate elements of what the next chapter for us may look like. Of course, I may not be thinking at 100% what with that bump on the head and all.....


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