An Ordinary Day

Well, maybe not so ordinary. I’ve just spent almost three weeks relieving in a local school library, and when I work all my routines go out the window. All I do is go to work, come home and get ready for the next day. So now I’ve finished that block I’m focused on writing, publishing some posts, exercising, practicing mindfulness… AND tidying, cleaning, vacuuming, gardening… catching up on long overdue paperwork….

You get the idea. I had breakfast sitting in the sun on the front verandah, making lists, with all my different colured textas and pens. Arrows, asterisks, underlinings, highlightings….What would be the best use of my time? How can I make sure I get the most important things done? What are the priorities?

Eventually I decide that I’ll feel best if my home is clean and tidy; chaos is unsettling and clean floors are a pleasure. Somehow, deciding this gives me permission to just get on and stop worrying about wasting time.

the calm of clouds in a blue sky.

the calm of clouds in a blue sky.

It’s a beautiful day. Sunny, warm, still, blue; small clouds decorate the sky. This town is set in a ring of hills, but not buried in a valley. It has the best skyscapes and since I’ve been here I keep driving out of town to take sky photos.

There’s washing on the line. I’ve finally planted the struggling peppermint geranium cutting –  it may still survive. It’s been sitting in water on the window sill for?? weeks? months? and I’ve kept promising myself that I’ll plant it today, but then, there’s always those priorities… But now, it’s planted!

the pleasure of washing, drying in the sun.

the pleasure of washing, drying in the sun.

I’ve sprayed the aphids on the roses with soapy water. And I’ve sat in the sun drinking cups of tea, chatting with my neighbours. I confess, I’ve also spent some time gazing at the sky, watching birds, checking out the way the gum looks against the blue of the sky… in other words, daydreaming and simply being glad I’m alive.

The vacuuming isn’t done, nor is the house tidy but I feel relaxed and happy. Of course the question still remains: how do I manage to do what needs to be done and also those things that are the most important?  I read other writers who juggle the demands of caring for a child while earning a living as full-time writers. I am in awe of their discipline. I’ve recently read a TED blog about a woman who was bed-ridden with chronic pain and chose to work as a TED translator during that time. There are plenty of role models of people who achieve in spite of the odds.

A pretty end to a pretty day.

A pretty end to a pretty day.

But today, I will revel in my freedom.

Living simply and sustainably

this beautiful earth

this beautiful earth

How to stay cool in summer? How to be warm in winter? Our new home, new to us anyway, is sited poorly and has only one air-conditioner in the family room so cooling and heating can be a challenge.

I’m finding I can live without air-conditioning in the summer -most rooms have ceiling fans. Seems ridiculous to be thinking about heating in this hot, hot, dry summer we’re having , but I’ve been worrying at the options since last winter in this house. I was living as simply and sustainably as I could and I froze.

After many months we are about to have an air-conditioner installed in the lounge room and solar panels put on the roof-  very exciting.

I spent the winter months asking people what heating they used. Here in the country, almost universally, the answer was a wood fire or stove.

Now I had a pot belly stove in my last house and used it at first. But coming home from work to a cold house, chopping wood, cleaning out the ashes, carrying the wood upstairs, lighting the fire and waiting for the house to warm…I have limited energy and am prone to viruses. I found I resorted to an electric heater quite often. Besides, you can’t turn a wood stove down! Once it’s hot…it’s often too hot and I don’t like sleeping too warm. I’d phone friends and tell them I had all the doors and windows open.

Now, I am ten years older. Realistically, I know I wouldn’t handle the effort of maintaining a wood fire.

Here on the coast where so many people have wood fires, the amount of available wood is becoming scarcer. We are using up animal habitats.  Personally I can’t get past the fact too, that respiratory related problems due to smoke inhalation is the major cause of infant mortality in the developing world. Although Australia is not a developing country I don’t want to add to a world problem. This is my choice and I understand it’s not for everyone.

In my previous house I put on gas. Being a city girl I had the notion that gas was the cheapest and most efficient. Here in the country, there’s no gas pipeline, it’s bottled gas. Not cheap! Besides, I’m nervous of gas. So that leaves air-conditioning and solar energy.

I’d like batteries to store the excess energy on those days of abundant sunshine, but I don’t think it’s possible to use batteries and stay connected to the grid- something I haven’t researched. I’m not ready to go “off the grid.”

What have I learnt through this process? I’ve learnt that I find it much more difficult to make choices when I’m using some of my small financial capital. There’s less room for error.  Even more crucial has been knowing that the choices affect the state of this planet.

Will I use air-conditioning on those cloudy, cold days when the panels don’t generate enough energy? I don’t know, but I do know that I care passionately about climate change and am committed to living sustainably and simply.