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Archive for the ‘Riot for Austerity’ Category

I spent much of Saturday cleaning carpets throughout my house. After the Friday fiasco, I decided I just needed to bite the bullet and rent a steam cleaner for the day and clean the carpets that had been “effected.” While I had the cleaner, I decided to shampoo all of the carpets in my house – and, well, there went most of my Saturday.

One hint, I did find industrial carpet shampoo that said it worked with residential steam cleaners in the cleaning products aisle at my local box home improvement store. There was twice as much product for almost half as much money as the name brand solutions sold next to the steam cleaners. I think it worked better than the other cleaners as well… so consider checking out the cleaning supplies aisles if you need carpet shampoo.

While at the home improvement store I also purchased tomato seeds. I still haven’t had a chance to plant these yet. I need to move some of my house plants to another room so I can make way for the seed starting trays I am recycling from last year (and get away from my computer long enough to do it.) Last year I started my seeds on January 15th and the year before it was only a week later than that – so I am behind on this planting.

I’ve calmed down a bit since my rant last week – but I did turn up my thermostat from 52 degrees to 58 degrees (still a very reasonable temperature), and I am feeling much more comfortable. And, in an attempt to clean out my laundry room so I can empty, paint the walls and tile the floors – hopefully very soon – I washed the rest of my laundry and took it all to the laundry mat to dry early Sunday morning.

I still skip a flush (or two) when I can, I don’t need to commute to work, so my driving is limited, I try and grow what food I can, and I am trying to be as aware as I can about how my actions impact the planet – but I am going to try and be less austere about it.

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Here in St. Louis, Missouri the temperature had become unseasonable cold with temps in the 40’s already (and lots of rain!), and my house temp is hovering around 56. Today I almost considered turning on the furnace, but since the winter temp level I have set for myself is 52 degrees, I held off and put on another layer of clothes.

We had a very mild summer, and it almost felt like spring from April through, well, two weeks ago went when we went directly into an early winter. This takes a little getting used to.

My body had rejected the whole notion so far. I have been laid up with a knee that just went out on me while rolling over in bed one night. No injury, no trauma, nothing even in the last year I can think of. I don’t think my ailment really has anything to do with the weather (although when one gets to a certain age I think it is required that one complain about the weather and ailing joints) – but it does put me in a different mood and made it most difficult to do even the most simple of tasks – like bringing in my house plants – most of which are still outside. I’m working on bringing in some of the smaller ones and getting rid of the debris and (hopefully) bugs in the kitchen sink since the rain doesn’t look like it is going to stop anytime soon (and I’m not real excited about getting sick by doing all of this in 45 degree rain). Frost looks to be in the forecast this weekend. I’ll try and get my next door neighbor to bring in the three larger potted trees, since there is no way I could lift them with this bum knee.

This past year I feel like I have prepared for the winter slightly better than in the past:

  • some friends and I insulated my office.
  • I caulked around my outside doors.
  • I discovered two heating vents that had been covered by bookshelves – one in my office and one in the sun room that have been covered for probably 10 years. (How stupid!) They have both been cleared.
  • Tomorrow I will stop at one of those big box hardware stores and buy a storm door extender (I’m sure it has a much more technical name) to cover the 1/2″ gap under my storm door. In the past I have stuffed a towel or a draft dodger in that area to stop the air flow. I’m hoping this will do the trick without me needing to trip over something every time I go through that door.

I’m trying to get everything ready for the eventuality of winter – and hopefully when the first frost hits I will be ready for it.

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Saturday was lovely. I worked in the yard and napped, worked in the yard and napped, and worked in the yard some more and napped some more. It was a wonderful day and I felt like I got a caught up on my sleep.

Sunday was another incredible day. After church and a church gathering following the service, I headed over to the home of some friends of mine and planted a few black raspberry canes on the alley side of their back fence. The canes had already developed some leaves, and I hope that they will take and produce for them. The birds have dropped the seeds all over my yard – including quite a number in a fairly shaded area that probably won’t allow for fruit to develop – so I decided to share these with a few friends.

When I had finished planting the canes, I began to dig up some heavy grass to make room for a small (2′ x 8′) garden in their small back yard. I got about a third of it dug up and I decided I was done for the day. So I kicked back and had a few beers before the fourth of our group arrived from his place not far away and we all had a lovely meal outside.

After we were happily fed, we sat down with our calendars and planned the planting of our new garden at my house. We set a date for planting, two dates for food preservation, other work days and a birthday party in June. It is amazing how busy all of our schedules have become over the past number of years.

One of the three will be coming over this Thursday to transplant the tomatoes from the seeding area into larger pots. I’m not entirely sure where in my sunroom I will put them at the moment. I also hope to fill my raised bed with soil by Thursday so we can plant a few cold weather crops. I realize it is pretty early to plant for St. Louis, but it has been unseasonably warm this year already, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to go ahead and plant a few dozen seeds now.

After the garden is planted, weekly, one to three of them will come over and help water and weed. As food develops, they will take it back into the city with them to share with the ones who didn’t make it out to the “burbs” during the week, and on Sunday when I trek into the city for church, I will probably transport additional goodies until the weather gets too hot for them to sit in the car for an hour or two.

I have the room in my back yard for a decent sized garden, others in the group are very into canning and cooking. We all have something to contribute to the group – some overlap, some do not – and when all is said and done, we have a plan that takes us from early seed germination to the final canning, freezing and preparing of what will come out of the ground.

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Many know that Lent is a weird time for me (see last year’s post) – but every year I try and wade through it – feeling that I am getting closer to the shore with every passing year.

On Sunday a few friends of mine and I were sitting around at lunch talking about what we were going to do or give up for Lent. At some point, two of us were “given” something – chosen by the other two. In my case, my new discipline will be to eat without the use of (or at least with a drastic reduction in) packaged foods.

Now, folks who know me even a little know that I don’t cook. I know that many people find the act of cooking relaxing or creative. I’m not one of those folks. I don’t use a lot of packaged foods, but I don’t cook from scratch either. I am perfectly happy eating microwave popcorn for dinner. So, this will be a huge project for me.

In preparation for this event… I got on to a recently discovered site called A Year of Crockpotting – the year having ended before I found the site. I figured that I could probably handle crockpot meals a little easier. Now, most all of them are well over my 3-ingredient maximum – so this really is going to be a stretch for me. I also discovered that I didn’t have many of the ingredients that many people would consider standard in their pantry… things like red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar (I have the plain white, used for cleaning vinegar). Sauces like soy, teriyki, and worchester were also missing. Spices and herbs – most of which I don’t have or if I do they are probably a good 5-6 years old. Heck – these things called for (in most cases) meat – and not the kind that has been stuffed into a casing or out of a can. I did note, though, that crockpotting is supposed to be good for tougher (less expensive) meats.

Off to the grocery I went.

I purchased sauces, and vinegars for my pantry to be better prepared for this cooking thing. I bought dry beans and something called pigs neck bones – which were cheap and looked like something that might produce a decent soup for my first crockpot project tomorrow. I figured I’d start with inexpensive meats so that if what I make is really, really lousy and I throw it away, I won’t be wasting too much money. We’ll see how it turns out.

So, even though I fight the whole Lent thing – I think this will be a very good discipline for me. I’ll certainly eat better/healthier.

Anyone doing anything for Lent or taking on a new discipline outside of a religious context?

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I have been crazy busy lately with work and meetings and organizing work and meetings and some living situation distractions.

I thought I would up-date folks on my garden planning:

Here is a pic of my three kinds of tomatoes (Cherry, Big Boy & Roma) and the bare spot is the bell peppers which are not doing well in my cold (52 degree) house (only one has “popped”) – even with a good amount of daytime sun. These pepper plants will go to a new (warmer) home to see if they will germinate. These were all planted on January 15th.

02-23-tomatoes-peppers

Here is a pic of the broccoli and onions I started indoors on February 10th – and they are both doing very well! I have been thinning out the broccoli a little at a time – and eating the sprouts that I pull (after getting rid of the part with dirt on it), and… they taste like broccoli (who knew). The onions are just breaking through the soil.

02-23-broc-onions

Yesterday I spoke with a friend of mine who happens to be a bit of a gardening guru, and she mentioned that NOW was the time to put peas into the soil. I will double-check this, but if it is the case, then I really need to take a few hours this week when it is supposed to be in the 50’s and finish my new raised bed and haul in the amended soil from 7 miles down the road.

Now, to many it probably sounds a little silly, but seeds sprouting and the prospect of putting seeds in the ground reminds me a little of the excitement I used to feel as a child around Christmas time.

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It has been a full six months since I finished my year of RIOT for Austerity. So, I thought it was a good time for me to see how I have done over the past year – with half of the year without Rioting.

I’ve gone the wrong direction in most cases – but not to extremes.

NATURAL GAS USAGE

July ’07 – June ’08 was 419 therms – RIOT.

  • This was a decrease of 58.08% (580.80 therms) from the national average.

Jan – Dec 2008 was 476.6 therms.

  • This is a decrease of 52.34% (523.4 therms) from the national average
  • This is a decrease of 21.01% (126 therms) from my own usage during the same months 12 months prior.
  • This is an INCREASE of 12.08% (57.6 therms) from the Riot 12 months.
  • Still ok – but not great.

ELECTRIC USAGE

July ’07 – June ’08 was 3,876 kwh – RIOT.

  • This was a decrease of 64.78% (7,128 kwh) from the national average.
  • This was a decrease of 44.36% (1,765 kwh) from my own usage during the same months 12 months prior.

Jan – Dec 2008 was 4,207 kwh.

  • This is a decrease of 38.25% (6,793 kwh) from the national average.
  • This is an INCREASE of 8.53% (331 kwh) from the Riot 12 months.
  • Still a move in the wrong direction.

WATER

July ’07 – June ’08 was 3,876 kwh – RIOT.

  • This was a decrease of 43.65% (16,850 gallons) from the national average.

Jan – Dec 2008 was 4,207 kwh.

  • This is a decrease of 45.60% (17,600 gallons) from the national average.

CONSUMER PURCHASES

July ’07 – June ’08 was $302.90 – RIOT.

  • This was a decrease of 96.90% ($9,697.10) from the national average

Jan – Dec 2008 was $383.45.

In the past six months I have spent only $232 on consumer purchases – and that includes $9 for Christmas (yep, only $9) assorted “under-things” which I was desperately in need of, TP and assorted toiletries and first aid items. If I take 50% of the RIOT numbers for the second part of the one-year and add it to the $232 for the last six months, then my consumer purchases equal roughly $383.45 for the last year.

  • This is a decrease of 96.16% or $9,616.55 below the average American household of $10,000. per year.
  • This is an INCREASE OF 26.59% or $80.55 from the RIOT numbers.
  • Honestly, it helps that I HATE to shop.

So, there you have it. When I don’t have to report in to the “community” I don’t do quite as well as when I do. Time to remind myself to turn off things again.

How has everyone else done?

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I have been tagged for this GREEN MEME.

These are the rules:
  1. Link to Green Meme Bloggers
  2. Link to whoever tagged you – Willow at “Contemplating Change.”
  3. Include meme number – MEME #1
  4. Include these guidelines in your post – DONE!
  5. Answer the questions – see below
  6. Tag 3 other green bloggers – see below
TEN QUESTIONS:
1. Name two motivations for being green
  • For me it is about doing the right thing; about being fair and only using my share of the earth’s resources.
  • In Native American spirituality (something from which I get a great deal of vision and strength) there is a belief that the world is like a respected family member – it is to be protected and revered. So, I feel it is my responsibility to protect the earth as best I can.
2. Name 2 eco-unfriendly items you refuse to give up.
  • My computer – because I really need to earn a living… and I learn so much from being on the internet.
  • My car – because mass transit is hit and miss where I live, and I’m not in shape enough to ride my bike 20/30 miles through really bad neighborhoods when I want to go visit friends.
3. Are you at peace with, or do you feel guilty about no.2?
  • I’m at peace with it. When I decided to be closer to the earth and have land to grow trees and flowers and food, I knew I could only afford to do that if it were outside the city. However, since I don’t have to commute to work it is not nearly as bad as it could be.
4. What are you willing to change but feel unable to/stuck with/unsure how to go about it?
  • I’d love to be able to go all solar – but there is the cost (and it is high!!!), and it would require cutting down trees, and that would be the toughest thing for me… I love trees.

5. Do you know your carbon footprint for your home? If so, is it larger/smaller than your national average?

  • It was about average last time I looked – but I have since taken in a boarder, so I am guessing it is much better than it was. One person living in a house – no matter how little is used in utilities and how little one travels for work or pleasure – really drives the footprint up.

6.What’s eco-frustrating and/or eco-fantastic about where you live?

  • Eco- frustrating = the distance from my church and friends/chosen family is further than I would like and requires me to drive longer distances.
  • Eco-fantastic = The grocery is a block away. There are small family-owned farms close by. There is lots of land with lots of wildlife close by (I back up to ~100 acres of woods).

7. Do you eat local/organic/vegetarian/forage/grow you own?

  • I try and eat local – but don’t do a great job of it. I grow more food every year than I did the previous year – so that is a plus.

8. What do you personally find the most challenging in being green?

  • Freezing my buns off during the winter and sweltering in the summer by trying to use as little energy as possible to heat and (almost) none to cool the house. When it is supposed to get really cold my chosen mom often calls me and begs me to turn up the heat – “just for the night.” She is seriously concerned that I will die in my sleep because my thermostat is at 52 degrees and the outside is in the teens.

9. Do you have a green confession?

  • I don’t have a compost bin. Often I will take food scraps (no meat) and throw it into the trees at the back of the property – but I don’t have a nice compost bin that produces terrific compost for my garden. There is a compost site seven miles from my house where I can get a truck load of clean compost any time I want for $15 – and that is what I do. Shhhh… don’t tell anyone.

10. Do you have the support of family and/or friends?

  • My friends/chosen family thing I’m a little nuts, but they love and support me… mostly.

I now tag these three bloggers,

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