Ms Betterhome

Looking back, looking forward
September 30, 2009, 3:29 am
Filed under: about me | Tags: , ,

This is part of my intro to Sharon Astyk’s online ‘Adapting in Place’ class I took earlier this year. We’ve moved house since then, so I’ve removed discussion of the house… but I thought it was worth re-posting here as I’m thinking about where I’d like to be in the next few years. It starts by talking about climate, to give a sense of place, then discusses some other ‘environmental factors’, including work & relationships. The temps are expressed in farenheit for my US list-mates:

Australia suffers from the El Nino/La Nina weather cycles & we’re
currently in drought, although Sydney had a fair amount of rain this
summer. The dam that provides Sydney’s water is 60 per cent full, and
we have had official water restrictions for the past 4 years. The
climate where I live is on the cool edge of being sub-tropical, &
getting warmer. We had a long stretch this summer where the
temperature didn’t drop below 90F, although the official average is in
the 80s. Humidity is generally around 75-80% in summer. Winters are
very mild by northern standards & it would rarely drop below the high
50s during the day, and mid to low 50s at night. We don’t get close to
frosts or freezes in the Sydney basin (though an hour’s drive
southwest they do freeze, and even get a light sprinkle of snow).

Our home is not insulated, but it is free from drafts (unlike many
houses of this vintage). It is perfectly possible for a healthy adult
to do entirely without heating in a Sydney winter, & I got close to it
in my student days. In a drafty house it is pretty miserable, though.
Summer is more of a problem & without fans the heat is terribly
oppressive, especially on nights where it doesn’t cool down.

Economy permitting, my goal is to move into a continuing teaching
and/or research position in the next couple of years. Education is
booming in the economic slump, and I’m currently doing a Masters in
Education to bolster my PhD and other credentials. Both Mr B & I
would like a backyard big enough for a decent-sized rainwater tank, a
compost pile, a real veggie garden, a couple of companion dogs & some
maybe quails or chickens.

My concerns are: real estate prices in Sydney mean that buying anymore
than an apartment is very hard to achieve – even for professionals. If
I were not in a relationship with a property owner, I would more
likely to be the sister-in-law on the couch than vice-versa. (That
said, I have shared with my sister’s family before, & it would be ok
to do it again). We have very little food & water stored & about a
week to 10 days worth of food (I should add Mr b sees no need for storage
whatsoever, but humours me). Water is the real sticking point for me –
dehydration can be fatal here in summer.

Mr betterhome’s business is very quiet, and no doubt will get quieter as things
get worse here. I have some savings, enough to live on for a year in a
pinch- but it would be a very hard year. Also, while he’s a very
practical person (qualified as a mechanic, owns lots of tools, is good
at home carpentry etc); I’m a classic intellectual. I have great
skills at vegan/vegetarian cooking, am good at living on very little
thanks to years as a post-grad; and I worked in daycare for years so
can take good care of babies & little kids. Other than that, I don’t
have much to barter. Our garden isn’t big enough to produce surplus,
either. I have never had a driver’s license (always lived in the inner
city), but paradoxically suspect as peak oil bites, I am more likely
to need one. Mr betterhomes has a 4 door ute (utility pick-up), that he can service

Reading back over this, a few things have changed – the economy in general is promising an upswing (of sorts), I have more $$ in the bank, & we have a better stockpile of food & water – which I’ll post about another time.


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