This was originally published on 3 August 2009
While I don't want to make DTE a question and answer blog, I do want to address a question Donetta posed last week. In part, she wrote:
I see your Dear Hanno laboring in the garden often in your images. What percentage of the physical labor are you able to tend to in the garden? You see many of us women have this heart and the efforts tend to come from our hand. I think it would encourage us to see that it is your combined physical efforts that achieve those awesome wonders grown on your hand. It is a very different story if the woman tends to much if not all of the hard labor of tending the earth. Truly Rhonda do you do the hard labor too?
Donetta and friends, our work here is truly a partnership. Sometimes one of us may do hard work while the other doesn't, but overall, it evens out. We have tended to divide our work according to what we like doing and what we're good at. We both work in our community, me as the manager of our local Neighbourhood Centre, which I do twice a week + extra bits and pieces at home, Hanno drives the bus from the Centre to take elders on shopping trips and to pick up food from the Foodbank. He does that about once a month. We consider that work is part of our normal weekly work.
But on a daily basis, Hanno likes working outside and does most of the gardening. However, I set up the gardens with one of our sons when we first came to live here 12 years ago, and carried on gardening over the years until Hanno took over when he retired about three years ago. Now, he does the day to day tending of the gardens, while I sow seeds, tend seedlings and look after the worm farm. I harvest and still plant a few things, but Hanno likes everything tidy and in straight lines and I'm not a straight line gardener, so I usually leave it to him.
These are the seedlings Hanno planted before the wedding earlier in the year. Shane and Sarndra married in our garden in June 2009. It was a beautiful family garden wedding, made better by the gardening Hanno did beforehand.
I do most of the inside work - the baking, cooking, cleaning etc but now that I'm writing my book and a monthly column for a magazine, writing is a large part of my daily work now, so Hanno helps with the laundry and some cleaning. Now that we're here by ourselves now, that is minimal. When we clean something it tends to stay clean - unlike when our boys lived at home; we do laundry about once a week.
We each work on our little projects - Hanno's are usually outside and mine inside. Hanno worked on making a new lid for the worm farm today while I recovered from a bout of the flu, the first I've had in years. When I work inside I'll do a project like the oil lamps, make soap, sew, knit or mend; at the moment I'm knitting a jumper for Hanno. When Hanno is outside his projects are things like mowing the lawn, making compost, tending the chooks, house and car maintenance.
I have to tell you, none of it seems like hard labour, although in the past I would have seen it as such. Now there is a gentle flow to most days. We rise when we feel like it, we work at whatever task or project we choose for that day along with the normal daily chores. At 10 am each day, tea is taken on the front veranda and we take the time to relax and talk about what we're doing and what we have planned. If we don't want to work, we don't. But we both know that if we want to live this way for a long time, there is work to be done, so we get to and do it. Not every day is a diamond but generally the work we do is enjoyable, gratifying and enriching - not only in what it gives our home but also in what it gives us.
How do you divide up the work to be done at your home?