changeling: (Default)
So we're getting rid of the car, like the hippies we are.

It's for a variety of reasons: the primary one is that I can't afford to keep it. I'm only making around $10 thou per year, so I can't afford to spend more than ten per cent of that on registration and insurance alone. Add to that the fact that the last service cost me over $800 and it didn't fix all the problems, and the rising cost of petrol, and the car is dead weight we can't afford to support.

The other reason is the fact that we have both tram and train in easy walking distance. And I have a bike (albeit rusting in the backyard at the moment, because the local Big Road scares the crap out of me). And we have three supermarkets within a ten minute walk. And we can take public transport to a market quite easily to do our shopping.

So yesterday I called up the charity to which we're donating it to find out what the hell's going on. The nice lady on the phone said, "It says here that it's been picked up already." My housemates and I, who have to squeeze past said car to leave the house (poor driveway design) can vouchsafe that this is not the case.

She amends the paperwork, and arranges for the car to be picked up today (Tuesday). She tells me there is a sign I have to place on the dash, and another form I have to fill out, and she'll email them to me. I also have to remove the numberplates, she says, in order to deregister it properly.

I spent yesterday afternoon emptying the car of crap, and throwing in the recycling bin all our old litre bottles of water (we used to have to keep a lot around for some time, before we had the radiator fixed). One was nearly full, so I took it through the house to the tomato plants out the back. Tomatoes are thirsty, so I like to top up the reservoir below their pots whenever I can with "spare" water. (We're on water restrictions.) I came back through the house, and threw away more plastic bags and other detritus that I'd collected into a big cardboard box. I realised I'd left my keys inside. And automatically latched the front door behind me. I had no wallet and no phone.

I had $9.25 in five- and ten-cent pieces that I'd scrounged from the car. We also had our old Yellow Pages sitting on the front porch. Monday nights we have morris rehearsal, and I cook dinner and bring it in. I had no dinner with me. I hadn't even started cooking. I looked up Nat's number and scratched it into the back of my hand with my nail. I walked to the RSL and tried to call her to let her know what had happened – Steph works for the government, so doesn't have her number listed in the Yellow Pages. The phone ate my 50c and didn't put the call through.

My only choice was to head in to the city. Metcard prices had risen again recently, and I knew that they used to be about $6. For those playing along at home, I had $8.75 remaining. I cut my losses and walked to the newsagency to buy a ticket – ticket machines always chuck a tanty if you try to pay with too many coins.

It was humiliating. I had to stand there for five minutes, counting out $6.50 in five- and ten-cent pieces. It also set off my poverty complex. Still, it was a stroke of luck (?) that I'd just pulled all that silver out of the boot, and hadn't taken it inside yet. I came into the city, met up with Steph, and we bailed on morris, so we could still cook dinner at home. It was a little relieving, since I was going to have to ask Steph to cover me for dinner.

Today I went to take off the numberplates. All the screws are rusted in. I manage to snap two of the ridges on our Phillips head screwdriver by trying to force it. So far I've managed to mostly get out one screw. One. Of four. I have NO idea how I'm going to get these plates off in order to take them down to VicRoads. Which, can I add, have no pages on their website about de/unregistering your vehicle. If you search, the only pages it brings up are about arranging for a temporary permit to drive an unregistered vehicle, and pages about reregistering. This says more than a little something about our society, frankly. Clearly I am a REBEL.

I also checked my email. I have not been emailed the sign OR the paperwork. Guess I'm chasing that up come nine o'clock.

changeling: (Default)
"Why waste land, if you have it, on things you can't eat? And why not have some fresh produce on hand in case of the inevitable zombie invasion." – Survive LA

I find this so inspiring. PIRATE GARDENING! It's actually something I've thought of myself, and Steph's plan to plant secret rocket (arugula to you Americans) in our rented backyard is certainly along the same lines. FREE VEGETABLES FOR ALL!!

Also, I believe I would like some more purple vegetables in my life. Hugh (F-W) taught me of the existance of purple sprouting broccoli, and now I discover there is purple cauliflower. How awesome is that?? Maybe (the eternal clause of "once we have our own place") I'll have a garden bed entirely devoted to purple. It will be AWESOME.

I'm still sick, but getting better. Steph, though, has finally succumbed to a week and a half's worth of germ invasion, and is sniffling grumpily on the couch (with one of Nat's Ultimate X-Men comics). We may not get to garden today, I guess. It's cold, and it's been raining on and off pretty solidly for the last couple of days. I'm considering bringing my marconi rossi capsicum plants inside so their soil doesn't get too waterlogged. Still, can't complain. We need the rain!
changeling: (Default)
I've been re-reading Living the Good Life: How one family changed their world from their own backyard, by Linda Cockburn (and her accompanying website) I first heard of Linda back in July–August 2005, when Steph and I were babysitting a beautiful house in Kingsville (I want to say "cottage" – it was pretty small), living out of home together and for the first time, going vegan, and embracing wholefoods ... and losing weight without trying. There was an article on what they were trying to achieve in Gardening Australia's organic gardening magazine. Later, when the book came out (February 2006), I snapped up a copy and wolfed it down as fast as humanly possible.

The book charts Linda and her family's attempt to live for six months without spending a dollar (barring things like medical expenses and rates). And they succeed pretty well, considering they're in Queensland and it was one of the dryest six months on record in their region (and frankly, probably in the whole of Australia). I found it so inspirational, as if someone had just projected my desires into a book. THIS is what I want to do with my life.

I have since found Cauldron Farm and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who've also got pieces of the puzzle. These people are all so inpirational. I can't wait until Steph and I have enough capital built up to take our own step.

I just re-took the Global Footprint test online, and my results were pretty good:
GOODS/SERVICES           1.1


It's slightly bollocks: it didn't take into account (for example) that I eat organic food (fewer nasties getting into the environment, less water use); that we flush the loo with shower water (and sometimes with discarded laundry water); that we switch our appliances off at the wall to avoid phantom loading; that we only switch the TV on about once or twice a week (to watch Robin Hood), that we source our electricity from Green Power; that S and I try to shower together, and briefly, only every other day and that on alternating days we bathe out of a sink; and so on and so forth. Still, I got markedly below the average for Australia – 7.6 global hectares per person, meaning that if everyone lived like that, we'd need 4.2 planets.

Still, it gives us something to aim at, and we're improving, too. We're going to get rid of the car indefinitely in the next six months (the only difficulty will be intra- and interstate morris trips – there we'll either have to rely on other people's goodwill or V-Line) and replacing it with electric bikes. Mine will have to get another basket affixed to it, as my pushbike has, and possibly a basket in front, so that I can market shop if we move somewhere further away than we currently are from a market & public transport. Once we have our own place and are not renting, we'll be moving towards sourcing most of our food (we'll probably still be buying sugar and flour). We also plan on getting a composting toilet, solar hot water, and solar panels for electricity.

And we plan on moving out of the city. I want to smallhold (just like Hugh ...) The current plan is to move to Marysville (she says, having not yet visited it). It's sub-alpine, has more rainfall than Melbourne (currently a BIG factor), and apparently has four distinct seasons and tends to the COLD. This all makes me extraordinarily happy. I have planned on moving to England for years and years, but Steph was moved around a lot as a child, so the idea of permanently relocating again moves her to tears. This way I get an England-esque climate, not to mention RAINFALL, and we'll only be a bit further away from Melbourne than the distance between our parents' places.

I can't WAIT to get started. In the short term, though, we have a couple more pots that need filling, which we're going to tuck in to this weekend. (Hooray! Finally!) And I just might plant some basil in the backyard to let it grow wild.

Further inspiring links:
A cute mindmap of things you can do to lessen global warming (I've printed it and it's going on our fridge)
A link to an organic gardening how-to site (this is mostly for me)
A website giving tips on how to lessen global warming, based in Tasmania.
changeling: (Default)
Today was hot, yet I wanted to have stuffed (roast) capsicums. Using the oven on Hot Days is verboten in this house (understandable, I know). So, what to do?

What I did was bake them. I created no extra heat, and used no extra electricity or gas.

Want to know how? )
changeling: (Default)
A quote appeared on my Shakespearean Insulter Google toy that seemed to describe much of modern society:

Your means are very slender, and your waste is great.

This amused me immensely. P.S. I rock Derby Garland. Also Lostock.


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