Things I Wish I Could Do
There are a lot of things I wish I could do, or at least wish I could do better. We will skip over the more obvious ones: flying, moving things with my mind, remembering everything I’ve ever read or learned, mind reading (on second thought, that would suck)… Instead, I’d like to focus on some self-sufficiency skills, artistic abilities and more practical Things I Wish I Could Do – or at least do better:
- Remodeling my house or doing anything involving wood and math at the same time.
- Fixing our plumbing, which I would use to replace all that PVC
- Doing anything electrical, which I would use to run electric to the outbuildings (safely), and play with DIY renewable energy like solar panels and a micro-hydro turbine.
- Fixing our worn-out or broken machinery – especially vehicles, but someday a tractor and not excluding water pumps, lawn mowers, and various turbines
- Identifying all of the plants growing on our property. I would settle for identifying the ten most common trees… or weeds. I can do about five of each so far.
- Playing an instrument, preferably something portable with strings (i.e. banjo or guitar)
- Singing – this is one of those “do better” things. How about: “Sing better than a sick cat”.
- Singing while playing an instrument, although I’d settle for either.
- Remembering things, including dates, names, numbers, factoids, tips, tricks, quotes… Sometimes I feel like I’ve forgotten 98% of everything I’ve ever learned.
- Writing creatively on one project. Sometimes I can write. Most of the time I feel like a hack. Either way, I wish I could do it better and I wish I could stick on a single topic long enough to get a book out of it.
- Building things is something I’ve always wished I could do better. You could lump this with the second part of #1, but it goes beyond working with wood. I wish I could do more with my hands, especially when it comes to “creating” or “fixing” things. This type of skill is always going to be needed. My “computer skills” are good for today, but if the feces was ever propelled forcefully at the rotating blades – my skills wouldn’t be worth the words it took to type this wish.
- Creating any kind of visual art, including drawing, painting, sculpting, welding, carving… NONE of which I can do… well enough to enjoy doing. Am I too focused on outcome here?
- Butchering animals sounds gruesome, especially if you’re a vegetarian reader. But it just happens to be one of those things that I wish I was better at. I have a freezer that could be full of deer meat (venison) but I don’t want to take a doe’s life until I’m ready to get all the meat I can out of it. Same goes for chickens (which I can do, but want to be better at), sheep, goats, cows, pigs…
- Gardening is something that I can do. Anyone can. But all of us can do it better, and I have a long way to go before I am as good at gardening as some of the people I look up to: Eliot Coleman, Anna H., Sundari Kraft, Mark Schonbeck. And yes, I did put you in that category because you came to mind as I typed. Deal with it. I’m not sure where this one ends and the next one begins, but probably somewhere between plant propagation and fruit-tree grafting…
- Farming is something I can’t do… yet. I am working on it. I feel that my gardening studies, experience and experiments will gradually lead into more farming skills, but no amount of weed pulling is going to prepare me for castrating sheep, orchestrating biologically-diverse-carbon-sequestering-intensive-rotational-grazing livestock on a grass farm, or even just building fences. I like to think I have the marketing skills to sell our products when the time comes, but we’ll see about that. Also, I don’t know if putting “farming” on here is fair. It’s sort of an all-encompassing concept around here.
- Speaking another language fluently would be nice. I used to speak pretty good Indonesian and could hold a conversation easily enough, but haven’t had to speak it in about six years or more and can’t for the life of me remember a fraction of what I once knew. Anyway, I’d much rather know how to speak Spanish. We’re all going to need it soon; not being political; just a fact.
- Food preservation is important to us, but I’m by no means an expert. I’ve canned some, dried some, put some away in sawdust… But I always feel nervous about it and am always checking, re-checking, and triple-checking every step in the process (especially with canning) to make sure I’m not going to give us all food poisoning.
- Surviving in the wilderness isn’t something anyone can ever be fully prepared for, but I would like to be more prepared than I am now. This includes short-term survival skills in case of an accident or getting lost, as well as more long-term skills that I just think would be cool to know, like making lye out of wood ashes (no, not the theory, but actually DOING it – more than once or twice), tanning leather, firemaking… and all of the great things I’ll be learning at the Firefly Gathering next summer.
- All of the old-timey crafts and skills that are close to being lost in time, such as soap making (I’d like to be better), cheesemaking (better), blacksmithing, beekeeping (better), apple-cider making, beer and wine making, moonshine making, leatherworking…
I’d better stop here before this list gets to be a mile long. I hit on some things that aren’t so self-sufficiency focused, but tried to stick to the topic all the same. I guess I should add “sticking to the topic” to the list.
How many of those things above am I going to learn in my lifetime? How many CAN I learn? Do you think we’re all capable of learning anything, or are some of us just never going to be artistically inclined, good with numbers, good with our hands… ? Personally, I think we can all improve, but I’ll never be a good portrait painter. As they say around here: “hIt just aint gonna happen”. But I bet I can accomplish a lot on that list before I return from whence I came.
Tag, you’re IT! If you’ve been tagged below, it’s your turn to ponder the wish list – and share on your blog if you would. Feel free to keep the ball rolling and tag some other folks:
- My wife
- Anna and Mark from The Walden Effect
- Lani & Chris from Aluminum Bliss (I’m a poet & didn’t know it)
- Leslie from the Oko Box
- Eric from Elevated Simplicity
- Tammy from Rowdy Kittens
- Leigh from 5 Acres and a Dream
- Jonathan & Emily from A Denver Home Companion
- Sundari from Heirloom Gardens & Eat Where You Live
- Tommy & Amber from the-soon-to-be House Flippin for Simple Livin site
- Laura Jeanne from Getting There
- Uncle Tractor from The Barn Board
… I’d better stop before I list every blog in my feed reader! I’d love to read everyone’s list, so let’s get a party started. It’s just too bad we can’t swap skills as easily as you can swap music collections. Everyone else, feel free to post on your blog (and let us know in the comments where that post is) or just leave your list as a comment below.