Best laid plans

It’s Saturday and I have the entire weekend now shimmering before me with hours of promise.

Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s 9.21am and so I have lost some of it drinking cups of tea, fooling around with the chickens and ducks, putting just two things away from the mountain of dishes in the dish drainer and looking at useless information on the net. Like kitten videos.

So what are my plans? Right now, my plan feels like go back to bed, to be honest. I’m wrecked from the past week. We’re a journalist down, and it doesn’t help that I’m a work-a-holic anyhow, so I have been writing, running around and taking photos like a madwoman.

As much as I feel like an 18-year-old, leaning on counters, talking silly with strangers, sitting in my office chair with my feet tucked up under me looking very not 44, I am 44. Nearly 45, and I must run off a weary laptop battery these days.

The heat doesn’t help. Today, we’re looking at a high of 100 and the next few days 104.

That heat puts most of my plans out the window. I have to make a new chook roost for the hens because we have skirmishes each night now between my two Muscovy drakes. I have to lock them up against the foxes, and a duck brawl is better than a dead duck.

Anyhow, when they get to flapping their big wings, they knock over the current roost which is admittedly, pretty flimsy. It leaves the hens in the midst of the fray, and none of that is fair. It must be a little chaotic when that perch goes down.

Finding materials in the shed to build a roost just doesn’t rate that high on my plans. There are several things I also have to do that involve being out in the sun, or the shady heat and none of it sounds appealing. Not at least until twilight when I know it will be cooler, but then I will feed the horses and go for my walk.

My question is, should I expect less of myself? For most of my life, when I had a good measure of freedom, I did as I pleased. Heat, cold, I just got on with it. Even working full-time, or going to school, I had energy to push on. Am I eating incorrectly? I know I don’t get the exercise I used to, but I get a good hour most days. Is this age? Is it metabolism? Perimenopause? Sleep cycles? Potassium or iron intake? What the hell?

Actually, even if I did feel like Mick Jagger racing around on stage, physically, I have accepted that I look as I look, and unless I am grinning ear to ear or belting out my laugh, I look tired.

I remember a moment in graduate school when I truly understood my fate was sealed. It was in graduate seminar, and a classmate said to me (with a South Carolina accent), “Geez Michèle, you look so tired,” (read ‘tired’ as ‘tarred’). I got a little snippy with her that night because the fact is, I always look tired and I told her so. Told her I was over people telling me that. I have that kind of face. Circles, a little wasted. My dad said he gets that, too. I hurt her feelings and I didn’t apologize.

I get the tired thing all the time. Last week I got it when I turned up at a farm on the way home to do an interview about wild dogs attacking their flock. I know the fellow and he said, “Mate, you look buggered.” He was right, though sometimes people say that when I am feeling good. I can’t win.

It’s getting warmer. I can feel it through the walls.

If I flop on the couch in the shady living room all day with the blinds drawn against the heat (no, we don’t have air conditioning) watching episodes of The Prisoner, Jeeves and Wooster, The Wire or rig up the VCR to see Clint in Fistful of Dollars, then I think of all the people in Afghanistan, in South Sudan, in Syria who are struggling to stay alive while my new refrigerator hums away, I have a toilet, a water tank, cars, a job.

Compared to a family of seven, living in a tin shack, I am rich, and I am lying on the couch, ageing, useless, when I could be creating plans to help the homeless, staging a walk against domestic violence, raising money to feed the starving.

And there I am, cheering for Omar. A fiction.

Maybe it’s normal to relax on a weekend. Relax has never seemed to factor into my vocabulary except as a piece of advice for others. For me, to justify relaxing without feeling antsy, I have to be stone-clocked flattened.

It’s no use telling me to get over myself. I think my drive to do is like depression. I can’t get over it. It’s there. I have to control it, or accept it and try to keep the stress levels down. Not hold my breath.

But there is so much to do. I can hear Lydia quacking outside and she is reminding me about that roost.

Living on a property, there are always a dozen things that need to be done and a list more waiting. Today, I’ll do what I can. Have a coffee, check the news, take a shower and get going.

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