I have hit my limit with the handmade-ness of the toolshed. I wasn’t happy with how it was coming together; the gaps were too big for my liking (remember the cladding was split not cut, so the logs bowed out and in as well as left and right) and I just wasn’t fully loving its finished look. I lay awake last night until 2am, thinking about it unhappily.

Yet this afternoon I went out again to spend hours in the 92 degree, 75% humidity heat splitting another log because doggone it, I SAID I would finish this thing and I WILL!

Until I had a revelation. Who am I doing this for? Myself. Why am I doing it? To use up existing free resources. To prove I can construct a shelter from materials our own land provides, with just my own woman-power and old-fashioned methods. Am I satisfied that I could do it if our little family were suddenly stranded 200 years ago? More or less. Am I enjoying it? No. What would I do if I didn’t have to carve all this wood by hand? Tend the garden. Tend my daughter. Be kinder to myself. Be happier.

So before I went inside this afternoon I took all the cladding back apart. After dinner I went and bought – gasp! – plywood siding. The rafters and underlying post-and-beam structure will still be made from recycled and home-grown lumber, but you won’t know it to look at the outside. And honestly, the neighbors will like it better that way.

I’m disappointed in myself because it feels like I gave up too soon – that with more perseverance it would eventually come together. It feels like if only I were good enough, I should be able to make it work. But I am ruining my body and angering the neighbors with my wood-splitting banging; I am tired all the time and so less able to be a good mother and wife. I don’t believe a tool shed is worth it. I think I owe it to my family to force myself to just relax.

6 Responses to “Alas”

  1. Ann Says:

    you’re not giving up. you’re being practical and prioritizing your time. Don’t be so hard on yourself!

  2. Richard Hendrix Says:

    Its great to have passion for your handmade hobbies. But it needs to take the proper amount of your time. You made a wise choice stepping back and rethinking the project and its effect on others. Noboby here thinks you couldn’t do it if you had the need. I get obsessed with my projects at times. Most people are not like us few. Keep up the good work, but don’t wreck yourself trying to get there.

  3. debbie swickard Says:

    I’m proud of you. You realized at a fairly young age what it takes many others of us a whole heap of years longer to realize.

  4. diana Says:

    You all are so kind. It’s nice to know that I’ve got support out there, because I was also afraid that y’all would be disappointed. Ann’s right, “prioritizing” is a great word. And Richard, true, it’s easy to get obsessed and so hard to disengage.

  5. Heidi Says:

    I am so glad your friends are so understanding. Yes, sometimes it is best to stand back and rethink strategy, particularly is the gains made are not giant and the rest of your life is sliding downhill. Be kinder to yourself: we all know you already are SUPERWOMAN. Give yourself some positive strokes sometimes.give your love and energy to those things (and people) who count, as you already do so well.
    don’t sweat the small stuff…

  6. Rose Says:


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