Jul 31, 2008

Shredding, Bartering, Downsizing by Any Means

I shredded 3 years worth of weird, "sensitive" papers the other day. It was one of the more evocative moments in moving. I had around 150 folded sheets of paper about a work related injury I suffered in 2005: It was great to shred all the drama between myself and the Worker's Comp agency that tried so hard not to pay for my clearly covered emergency surgery and follow up treatment. Actually, most of what I shredded was medical stuff. Why am I so accident prone?

But more to the Compact, I also shredded old credit card statements (for a card that doesn't do online statements). Nearly all were from the Compact era, for which I was grateful as they were shorter than the few I found from 2005. I over-heated the shredder as is, sooooo much paper waste! I only print on paper that is printed on one side already (easily pilfered from recycling bins at college or library computer labs), but sometimes I think I'm one of the few. I realize that companies are covering their asses with all of this paper, but mailings have become a real focus of mine in the lead up to the move. I really don't want any useless mail coming here when I'm gone (especially as I have no forwarding address). So I've been calling any companies or organizations that send me stuff (SF Bike Coalition, Forests Forever, my evil visa card). Oi, such a pain.

On Tuesday I bartered one of my bikes for $175 worth of raw, organic, locally raised/produced food for my cats. Smallbatch owners, Diana and David, needed a bike, and I'm stocking up my cats like the apocolypse is coming. It was a great deal for all of us! The food will come in 3 twelve pound installments over the next 6 months. I'm picking up the first batch on Friday at Hazel and Gertie's. I'm borrowing a car to pick up about 80lbs of cat litter that Jeannine, of H&G's, was kind enough to bulk order for me.

It may seem crazy to buy that much cat litter, but it keeps just fine in the garage. I'm literally buying my half of the cat's needs for the next 9 months. Blake and I are co-guardians to the furries, and he's keeping them while I study. Since he's going to have to scoop all the poop and dish out all the grub, I am picking up this load of supplies to make it easy on them. I'm so lucky to rely on businesses like Smallbatch and Hazel and Gertie's, the latter of which won the SF Bay Guardian's Best of the Bay for Best Boutique for Hep Cats (and Dogs).

I still have a few things to unload, like an older laptop and MORE PLUMS. Yesterday I found two of the only things I need in a free box on the street: flannel pajama pants and a thick thick scarf! Lucky me! Theoretically, it's all coming together. We'll see. If only a warm coat pops up, I'll know my future is well.

Jul 27, 2008

RRFM rocked, and a comment on comments

I got rid of so much great stuff at the really really free market yesterday. It was a good time and I managed to get pedals for the bike I'm taking to London. So sweet.

I've been getting a lot of comments lately, but when I publish them, Blogger doesn't tell me what post they're related to. So if you ask a question via an older post, I frequently lose them. There's a link to my email in the profile, or comment on a newer post so I can find the comment after they're published.

For the person in Spokane who's starting a Compact group: Right on. Feel free to use whatever of our language or ideas that you find helpful. The Compact is very supportive of diy and autonomous organization. When we started out, we created a listserve and had regular potlucks. We were able to give each other support either by sharing ideas, physical things, or resources. The original group pretty much went back to direct emails to each other since our listserve has been inundated with folks. It's not super functional for local purposes anymore. Consider how large you want your core group to be. If you can get a few friends and neighbors to give it a shot, even for a short duration f time, you might find it easy to just email and meet for potlucks or go to something like a Really Really Free Market or something. Or if you want to have a larger group to bounce ideas off of, make a public list for resource sharing (so folks can post the ways they live a low consumption lifestyle in your area: thrift stores, junkyards, weird reuse spots like SCRAP or Urban Ore). If you make a public list, lemme know and I'll put it in the links section to the right.

Jul 25, 2008

Really Really Free Market Tomorrow, Dolores Park

Tomorrow is the July Really Really Free Market in San Francisco's Dolores Park from 1-5pm. In the spirit of all things low/anti-consumption, join us for a mellow afternoon of sharing. Bring fruit, skills, books, clothes, whatever you have to offer. No buying, no selling, and no leaving your wares behind for others to cart off to Community Thrift.

I'm taking lots of plums to the market, of course. And some stuff I'm letting go in this move: a camel pack, some fine paper, radical books, seeds, an external hard drive, etc. As always, I'm looking for headphones because mine suck. I could use sweaters too. Other than that, unless some conservation textbooks magically appear, I've got more to give than I need to receive. I need to spend the next couple of hours going through my stuff to really pare down the stuff I want to pack. That'll help me figure out what to take to RRFM.

The dogs at Pooches' Playtime, where I've been picking up some extra work, helped me make some wardrobe decisions yesterday. They ripped a pair of my cargo pants in a way that I'm not sure is reparable, at least not in the sturdy spirit of those pants (which were several years old, a bit thin). It was pretty hilarious handing the dogs back to the clients with a very long tear up the left leg of my shorts. I was already worried about being cold because I forgot the bottoms of the pants, the tear pretty much ensured that. Very funny. Goofy pups.

Jul 21, 2008

Everybody's Canning!

Yesterday I distributed a lot of fresh plums, jam, conserve, and bread to neighbors and my favorite shop keepers. While interviewing prospective subletters I unloaded a bit more. (In the end we chose the guy who said plums were his favorite fruit! There were many reasons why this guy will be a great housemate for Blake and the kitties but I had previously thought that the ad should say, "Must love plums", because they're such an important part of the back yard, hee hee).

I couldn't stop eating the bread so I made a delivery to my friends at Station 40. That was a good call: I took food and left with food. William was canning excess strawberries so I left with jam. And there were lots of dumpstered bananas and nectarines, which I'm enjoying right now in a smoothie.

The synchronicity cracked us up as we sampled each others' tasty treats. Just when I thought it couldn't get more beautiful, Francisco (who I haven't seen in months and I didn't know had come back last week) walks in and shows me the fresh vinegar he's making from unsalvagable dumpstered fruits. Now I have a plan for any plums that I can' t use!!! This was one of those afternoons that makes me think I should never leave San Francisco.

I'm dashing off to the Russian River tomorrow with Blake and a rad dog, Cooper. We're taking plums and jars to do some more canning and bread making. There's a paper bag of plums on the steps here, with plastic bags attached to the handle so my friends can swing by and take what they need. John and Rob took over 2 gallons today for canning and baking. I'm so excited to see these all get put to good use!

Here's a new article about the Compact if anyone's interested.

Jul 19, 2008

What would you do with 7 gallons of plums?

I spent the whole day dealing with plums. It's one of those weird chores that falls to me: Deal with the gallons of plums that spew from the two over producing, exceedingly tall, unclimbable trees in our back yard. It's obvious that no one tended these trees for at least a decade before we gained access to them two years ago. Long skinny branches shoot way up into the sky before cascading over in branchlettes that shade the more manageable pear and apple trees. Dark purple plums hang over 2/3rds of the arable yard. They're about the size of a gumball out of a machine. Despite their individual size, these trees drop such a bounty that other plants are covered or the ground becomes wine if the trees aren't harvested.

Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of the plum trees. I hack into them every chance I get, limbing them back as far as my arm can stand to saw. It's nice to wait until the harvest for major limbing so that I can get the plums off higher limbs that I'm removing. And that's what I spent my morning and early afternoon doing, harvesting and limbing ONE of the two trees. I gathered one gallon of fallen fruit. Then I climbed a bit for three gallons. Then I limbed for an additional three gallons.

Then I had seven gallons of mostly ripe plums to contend with. That's too many smoothies to wrap my head around so I started canning and baking. I started with a low sugar jam recipe, simmering to the right in the photograph. It was a bit tart when I poured it into the jars, unfortunately, but I got rid of about a half a gallon of plums. I followed that with spiced plum bread, which is tucked away in the oven. That was only about a pint of plums, but that stuff tasted great even when it went into the oven. On the left burner you see a plum based conserve with orange, lemon, raisins, and enough sugar to induce mania. This took about a gallon of plums. Which in the end means I used a little under two of the seven gallons of plums.

I've called some friends, including fellow compacter, John Perry, who also wants to do some canning. And I want to drop some off at the fruits of the hill stand outside of Heartfelt on Cortland. That's a free spot for putting out excess in yard grown produce. It's just taking off and I hope more folks take part (I see so many lemon and lime trees unharvested around here). I'm going to take both ripe plums and either the conserve or the jam down to Access Cafe's donation based brunch tomorrow. I have to get rid of the bread or I'm going to eat it all. Since it's not vegan I can't take it to the cafe, but I can take it to Station 40.
I'm not sure what I'll do with the rest of the plums. If you're local and you want to try one of these recipes, they're yours!!! I even have some extra mason jars, seals, and lids. I'm moving and if they can be used, there's no sense in storing them.

So I'm pretty happy with myself today. My housemate, on the other hand, is probably going to have a small, feathery duck later tonight when he gets home from work. We've got two potential subletters coming to see my room tomorrow and I said I'd clean up a bit. I actually made one hell of a mess instead. But plums wait for no woman. It was today or never in my mind. I've really cleaned up my mess quite well, but I didn't clean up any outstanding messes from before the plum fiesta... Guess I'm getting up early tomorrow. Whatever, I'll put on some coffee and settle into some jam before I get moving on the cleaning.

Jul 15, 2008

The Purging of My Posessions

In the past couple of weeks I've gotten rid of a few bikes, some pots, and all of my beading supplies. I freecycled some stuff and have been scanning the wanted ads. Note that SF Freecycle is about 5 to 1 "Offers" (ie, we all have too much shit). I had the worst garage sale in history on Saturday. My street just doesn't have the foot traffic to support such a venture. I'm more of a Really Really Free Market kinda girl, but hauling all of this stuff on my bike to the Dolores Park is not going to happen. I've selected some choice items to share there at the end of the month (Camelpack, nice art paper, political stuff, etc).

So I've taken advantage of several ways of rehoming my stuff. But there's still more to get rid of! There's the pile of books I hope to sell, full of some pretty rad books that I doubt I'll ever read again. Most of these were turned down by Dog Eared Books and Modern Times is not buying right now. So I'm going to hit up Adobe next. There's the pile of miscellaneous stuff (lamp, dog bowls, tea thimbles, etc) going to Community Thrift.

And then there's my favorite pile: All the stuff I need to repatriate to its rightful owners. I've got about ten 1 gallon starter pots to give back to Greg Gaar, who does the native plant nursery at the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Coalition recycling center. I'm also returning the progeny of the plants I got from him. I've culled loads of seed from my phaecelia, horkelia, and fringe cups so far. Also in the pile are many tools (weed wrench, mattock, loppers, hand clippers, hand saw, etc), a tarp, and a pop up bag, all of which must be returned to my friends at the Natural Areas Program. I'm finished with that contract on Thursday! When I drop off those items I'll also rehome the rest of the Green DogWalks posters and about 50 extra Nature in the City maps.

Getting rid of this last pile means that I've completed all of my contract work. I'm borrowing a car on Thursday to get rid of all of these piles because I just can't bike them all away. If I borrowed the trailer I'd need someone else to come along to guard the trailer/stuff while I go in to sell the books or return stuff. I thought about it, in particular because I love that trailer at Station 40.

The move is becoming more real all the time. I'm quite ready to leave San Francisco most of the time, but I got a bit syrupy today when writing a brief review of the wildlife I've seen in the city this year. I'll miss the land and my friends, but I need a break from the rest of the humans here! Not sure that I'm ready for the density of London, but that's where I'm headed. Hopefully it's dense enough that I can find a good couch surf or 2 in September. Finding permanent housing is going to be murder but I'll be looking for a friendly collective. Even if I don't find that at first, hopefully I find the folks who can point me in that direction.

Since I'm going to be soooooo broke, I've started looking into my resources. Hallelujah there is a healthy Freecycle network. And hurray for Food Not Bombs! Feed me. And I'm not sure what it has to do with being broke, but Critical Mass London, I'm so stoked! Maybe in a mass I can figure out how to make right turns. I've even heard about some radical queer cafe nights that I can't wait to check out.

Just a bit more stuff to get rid of. A few more things to pack. Some dogs to walk. Then I'm off.

Jul 8, 2008

Water Saving Heroes

My brother-in-law, Heath Wickline, is working on the Water Saving Hereos campaign here in northern California so I thought I'd give a shout out. It's my kind of project anyway. Similar to the stuff I do with Green DogWalks, the Water Saving Hereos campaign provides practical knowledge in a spirited and light-hearted way.

The gist is that we can all be water hereos, in that each of us can contribute to water conservation. I posted recently about the ills of irrigation in corporate agriculture, but I didn't talk much about home conservation tips. I'm less of a water saving hero, more of a water saving freak, so try not to roll your eyes. Take what you can. Leave the rest.

One thing most of us can do, is to put a bucket under your shower fawcett. If you catch the warm up water and the last gush that comes after you turn the shower off, you'll capture anywhere from half to 1.5 gallons. If you're the kind of person who turns off the shower to soap up, you might capture up to 2 gallons.

So what can you use this water for? Anything really! That's drinking quality water pouring out of your shower tap most likely. In summer we use our shower "run-off" for the garden. We never need to turn on the hose for our veggies and fruits. In winter we fill the toilet tank or use the water for dishes. We don't have a washing machine, but you could easily use this water to contribute to a clothes washer (something I used to do when I worked at Pooches' Playtime). It's already in a bucket, maybe you can clean with that water. I dunno, but now that you have it, use it well.

Side note: Green DogWalks will be featured on TV20's "Your Green Life" this Sunday at 6pm. That's a local station in San Francisco. Thanks to Brendan Moran, Bernal Heights Park neighbor and visitor, who does this show and took an interest in Green DogWalks.

Jul 1, 2008

Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay LATER

I was shocked last week to get an email about a huge push to drill for more oil in the Arctic, in the ocean, and where ever the hell else we might find it. The email came from my uncle, but it was sent to him by my dad. Apparently Chuck N0rris set the whole thing off, but I don't really care about him. What I care about is the thought that my dad would suddenly think it's a great idea to destroy vital habitat for the purpose of prolonging our addiction to oil.

I asked my dad what changed his mind about drilling in ANWR and he assured me that he's still a conservationist. Then he started talking about realism and not being a nimbyist. I reminded him that I'm opposed to drilling in general and that I strive to keep my oil consumption as low as possible through conscious decisions about my diet, transportation, employment, etc. My dad also asserted that there were no oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico following Katrina so there was obviously "new" technology to drill without harming land or sea. I was pretty annoyed because it was obvious that these arguments had swayed my dad and they were pathetic. A quick Google search of the terms "Katrina" "oil spill" returned satellite images, maps, and reputable commentary on the spills that did in fact occur following the hurricane.

Have Chuck N0rris, John McCain, and "American S0luti0ns" been huffing gas? They're obviously high if they think that more drilling is the answer. What good is a very short term increase in supply? Ugh, how much longer can we charge down this path before the ills of oil culture finally take hold?

A new poll shows that because of high gas prices, people have started looking to this temporary increase in supply as more important than actually conserving, or heaven help us, weaning ourselves the fuck off of oil. I'm sickened by this news. How can people be so short sighted? I hear the economy woes, of course. But what economy can we hope to have on a planet warped by climate change and habitat destruction?