Friday, December 19, 2008

A Case for Husbandry

Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulleth the edge of husbandry

In Shakespeare's day the word husbandry referred to the practice of managing your finances in a sensible and frugal manner. It is a skill that becomes sharp (as he alludes) through hard times and necessity, and this is true for some of us more than others. My mother was a master of husbandry, one of those survivors of the Great Depression who practiced thriftiness as an art form, always searching for coupons, checking for the best deals, worrying that someone might spend too much money on her, especially at this time of year. Being frugal was a passion for her, not a discipline.

But setting the terms of frugality for others is difficult, and I've been struggling about what to do with the car companies. The social system as a whole became addicted to credit and consumption long before I was (put) in charge of everything, so don't blame me if things get a little dicey as I sort things out. I have to find an orderly way to give the auto makers and related businesses a chance to recover. These companies are collections of people, not assets.

I also have to get things wrapped up quickly because I've decided to start a new project and I can't be on my brain phone every 5 minutes with the knuckleheads in Washington. It's not a very exotic or dramatic project, but I am excited. A couple years ago Cheryl and I put in flagstone in the back yard--about 700 square feet. I swept crushed rock in between the stones, and even though the patio has a layer of fabric underneath, great clumps of weeds and grass grow up in the cracks. Here is an ugly, dead bunch of weeds. I will be grouting between all of these stones. More on this to come. Very cool! (If this doesn't get you excited, you aren't living right.)

My mother would get a kick out of this project, mainly because it is cheap and not dangerous. The first step will be to clean up the cracks and pull out all the dead weeds. Mom would say something like you should always keep your crack clean. Willow and I had to laugh at that one.

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