Sunday, 30 December 2007

A day in the life....

A number of the people associated with the Riot for Austerity have been writing posts outlining the course of their typical day. I haven't really thought of putting my two cents worth in, because my efforts seem so paltry compared to so many of the Riot bloggers who have thought of, and done, almost everything to reduce their impact every day. But as this year comes to a close, I realized that our household has made quite a few changes over the past several months, and maybe it would be useful, at least to me, to make note of the things we're doing at this point, and how a weekend day looks. So here goes:

Sunday, December 30th

~8:30 am: wake up later than usual (we were out visiting fairly late with family last night) and tip toe downstairs to make tea and feed the guinea pigs. The automatic thermostat still has the temperature set for 17C, so it's a bit chilly. Take tea back upstairs to bed, and read a couple chapters in Pema Chodron's "When Things Fall Apart" by the light of my FreePlay hand crank lantern, while Gord still sleeps. Fall back asleep myself - oops.

~9:00 am: auto thermostat clicks up to 18C for the day. (It goes up earlier on weekdays.)

~10:00 am: Gord lights the woodstove - still lots of embers left from yesterday so it's easy to light today, with a good updraft. (On very cold days there can be a downdraft instead, making lighting the fire VERY difficult, not to mention smoky.)

~11:00: I finally drag myself out of bed (I am not cut out for late nights anymore) and head to the shower. Use the toilet first, and flush using greywater from yesterday's shower, stored in the bucket in the tub. Replace bucket under faucet to catch the water as it warms up. Turn on the shower and hop in. Even though we have CFL bulbs in the light fixture, I leave the bathroom light off, with the door open to let in some light and let out the humidity. My 'navy shower' takes about 5-7 gallons of water, thanks to the toggle switch on the shower head, letting me turn off the flow while I lather up, shampoo, etc. The toggle switch also lets me adjust the flow of the water, so even when it's on, I usually have it set to about half or three quarters the maximum flow. Today I let the water run out of the tub. I justify this by saying that the tub needs to dry out every couple of days so I don't get too much soap scum/slime build-up in there.

~11:20 am: I don't have to do my hair or make-up today because I'm not going anywhere - hooray! Just put on some organic moisturizer on my face and a bit of mousse in my hair (so I don't look like a boy) and I'm good to go.

~11:45 am: start cooking some delicious and local Sunny Boy cereal for breakfast.

~11:50 am: add wood to the woodstove. Our wood is 'free' from aspen trees that the neighbours cut down to clear a spot to build their house. We also burn deadfall from our ~2 acre woodlot, but currently the 'free' wood is more easily accessible, and already cut.

~12:00 noon: eat "breakfast" - or is it brunch by now? My jaw has been sore from all the raw veggies I've been eating lately, so it's a soft porridge breakfast this morning. Note to self: veggies are delicious, but your jaw has to last a while yet so eat fewer raw veggies all at once (especially carrots). I leave the cereal in the pot I cooked it in - no point in dirtying another dish.

~12:30 pm: add more wood to the woodstove, and throw on a batch of used guinea pig bedding (a.k.a. wood pellets) as well. We get good use out of these pellets: the guinea pigs poop and pee in it and then we burn it in the winter, or use it as mulch for walking paths through the woodlot the rest of the year.

~12:45 pm: start a batch of soup stock, and load up the bread maker with ingredients for bread. Relatively local ingredients include potatoes from the Scotford Hutterite Colony, Windsor salt, Roger's sugar beet sugar and Sunny Boy organic flour. (I have cooked the soupstock on the woodstove in the past, but today I am a bit lazy and do it on the ordinary stove instead.)

~1:15 pm: go outside with Gord to shovel snow, refill the bird feeders, take out the compost, shake the snow off the littlest trees so their branches don't break. Take more wood inside - three boxes full, that should do for the rest of today. Gord leaves another wheelbarrow full just outside the basement window to take in tomorrow. We will have to split another pickup truck load of wood soon.

~2:15 pm: more wood and pellets; stir and taste the soup stock - add more herbs.

~2:20 pm: rescue the bread dough from the paddles which have come loose inside the breadmaker and are now well incorporated into the dough. Weird. Put the paddles and dough back in their proper spots and hope for the best.

~2:30 pm: cut up the remaining potatoes and some celery to make cream of potato soup when the stock's ready. I put all the onions in the soup stock itself, so celery and potatoes will have to do for the soup itself.

~3:05 pm: take the laundry out of the washing machine that Gord put in earlier. Hang it to dry on the drying rack downstairs near (but not too near) the toasty warm woodstove. Throw another log or two into the woodstove.

~3:15 pm: pee. Greywater flush. Just pour about 1 1/2 gallons of water from the collection bucket into the toilet bowl and down she goes. Works best if you pour the greywater right down the centre of the toilet bowl from about the same level that the water in the tank would be.

~3:30 pm: have a nice cup of tea with home made oatmeal cookie.

~4:00 pm: start the cream of potato soup using the homemade veggie soup stock. The potatoes were all growing wierd shoots from their eyes, so it was time to use them up. Scare Gord with the alien-looking potatoes before removing shoots. Gord humors me by making a face and laughing. Note to self: figure out a better place to store potatoes.

~4:15 pm: the bread is looking good and rising like it should. It should be edible after all.

~4:30 pm: surf the web. Check assorted blogs. Point out one of Sharon's posts to Gord which he reads.

~5:00 pm: add more wood to the woodstove. Sit in front of the woodstove for a while, enjoying the warmth and coziness.

~5:30 pm: Write and post previous blog entry while Gord has a nap.

~6:20 pm: Breadmaker beeps - bread is done. Mmm...mmm. Add last bit of cream and some milk to soup and blend. Warm soup bowls in the breadmaker since it's still hot in there.

~6:30 pm: Serve and eat dinner: home made soup and home made bread - yum!

~7:00 pm: Wash numerous pots and pans with my Dr. Bronners soap. Make lunch to take to work tomorrow : bread, potato soup, veggies (no carrots!), and some store-bought cookies because I am now out of home made ones.

~7:30 pm: start writing this blog entry.

~9:00 pm: clean out guinea pig cage -- spent pellets into a bucket to take downstairs to burn in the woodstove, stale water from the pigs' water bottles used to water house plants.

The day will end with a bit of time spent reading my Pema Chodron book by the light of my crank-powered lantern, having a cup of chai with Gord, banking the woodstove for the night so there are good embers left for tomorrow morning, and flushing the toilets with water from the tank for a change, last thing before bed. At 11 pm the thermostat clicks back down to 17C. It used to be lower at night, but not any more.

I really like Sundays like this. Ones that contain some satisfying indoor and outdoor tasks, and some enjoyable time for tea and watching the fire. We still have a long way to go in meeting the 90% reduction goals of the Riot for Austerity, but over the past year we've taken our consumption down in all areas, mostly in electricity, water and natural gas use. Our average is about 60% less that that of the typical North American household. We still have a long ways to go, especially in our gasoline/diesel consumption. That won't change much unless we move closer to work, but we do normally have one car-free day per week, sometimes two.

If Sharon from Casaubon's Book is right, 2008 will be a year of challenges and some surprises. But every day brings our household a little closer to being ready for these, and being content with the simple pleasures of things like home made soup and bread.

Our soup and bread were eaten before a picture could be taken so I've borrowed this guy's picture instead.

A couple edits added on January 1st -- things I hadn't remembered at the time.


DC said...

Sounds like you're making some great progress toward your reduction goals. There's an old zen saying: "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water -- after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." After reading your post, I am going to propose changing the "after enlightenment" bit of the parable to "burn guinea pig bedding, flush with greywater." Keep up the good work!

Theresa said...

Hee! Thanks DC! I hadn't heard that saying before - I really like it. There is still much to be done, but I guess there always is!

daharja said...

I'm just trying to get over hearing the temperatures you're experiencing.

Here in Melbourne we've got heat waves and water rations. This week we've had days and days over 42C (108F - yes, really!), and with no garden watering allowed, everything is dying, and the public pools have been drained, so no relief there.

Global warming? I'd call it 'global boiling'. I'm trying not to use the airconditioner too much, but when the walls of my house are regstering nearly 60C in the shade (140F), it's a bit hard not to.

Theresa said...

Whoa, daharja, that is some kind of HOT! I would rather deal with cold than hot, but maybe any Canadian would say that. Right now today it's about -6C, which is very pleasant, and apparently about average for this time of year. We've had a couple cold snaps with night time lows down to about -32C, but nothing to 'extreme' so far this winter. Last winter I was driving to work in -44C temps.

Chile said...

Thank you for sharing this. The homemade soup and bread are great steps towards living a more sustainable life. I've enjoyed reading about your cooking on the woodstove. In fact, I picked up the Foxfire series book on Appalachia cooking just for the info on wood stoves!

Theresa said...

I would love to get some kind of oven contraption for the woodstove. I will have to check out that book too Chile, and see what other things I can cook on my woodstove in the meantime...