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*Ahem*

Now it has been over six months and I am still, sort of, unemployed. I am doing some consuting work with my mate and picked up four days work this week. It has been good to get back into it and even earn some money. Things are starting to get a bit sparse but all in all we are OK. The electricity bill just came in and it was $8!

Back in december we realised that I needed a car if I was going to work, particularly consulting because I can get shot around to almost anywhere, so we picket up a little suzuki Alto brand new for around $15,000. It made somewhat of a dent in the savings but I need it to earn more money.

Strangely enough it was pleasant without a car and I had to walk or catch public transport so there was no issue. I must admit to getting a bit lazy and using the car rather than the bus to get to the shopping centres further away from us. We still both walk to the local shops when required. We went into Sydney for a stay at a posh hotel a couple of weeks back and for that we went by train and bus. We were given a free night and a voucher towards a meal by the company I was working for before I was retrenched, which was very nice and quite touching. We had a lovely time in the city and bought some books (surprise, surprise) and the meal at night, we had a voucher for $250 towards the cost and being non-drinkers I figured we wouldn't go anywhere hear that. We both just got the main meal and a couple of side dishes, dessert and a couple fo soft drinks and the bill came to $200! I couldn't believe it. It really is another world to the one we normally inhabit!

We will be open for National Permaculture Day on the 1st of May 2011 from 10:00am to 4:00pm so if you are in the area stop in and see us.

We have had some really hot weather in the last month or two and it has knocked the garde around a bit so we are in a bit of a hungry gap at the moment, some stuff has died prematurely and we are waiting for other stuff to come on. At least the carrots are still providing food for our evening meal and the chooks are still producing. We are doing OK but a bit of rain would be nice.

Current Mood: relaxed relaxed

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It's been almost a month now that I've been "retired". Sustainable house day has come and gone, a bit dissapointing as usual, but enough people to have a good yarn with although I wish there were more.

The projects are still continuing as are the updated articles on our website www.underthechokotree.com and so there has been enough to keep me busy. The place is looking good and I have made a start on the aquaponics system. A lovely young lady uni student, Jennifer, came to see us last week for a chat about edible weeds and sustainability. We wound up giving her a tour of the place and she was quite interested in what we were up to, she is also researching aquaponics and was going to see some people with aquaponics systems the following day. I would have loved to go too but this not having a car tends to slow me down a bit.

Along with not having a car, we do now have an adult tricycle for Mrs Wombat, it is a huge amount of fun and will hopefully help with transporting stuff back to our place. I also picked up a bicycle trailer but haven't commissioned it yet.

Things are still going slow with the book, some interest but still no firm offers. My contact is going to a book show in Europe and will see if there is any interest there. I also approached her with another idea of a book about making and using low energy cooking devices like the hay box. The book would include lots of recipes as well, i have sent her a one-pager with some details so we'll see if anything comes of it.
 
I'm still finalising a program of sustainable living courses with Mamre farm with a meeting last week to discuss where we had gotten to so far. I have a roughed out plan and will be discussing it with my friend Rachel and the head man Bob to see where we go with it, hopefully next week.

Also next week is our 33rd anniversary so we will be heading off to Katoomba for the day, it will be a nice day out. We did go to the vegetable markets at Flemington this weekend with DD and SIL. We got some galagal to grow and to cook with, a good load of cheap tomatoes for pasta sauce and in the general market section I was able to pick up a fairly repectable pair of blacksmith tongs for only $6, what a bargain. I must resurrect my forge!

That's most of the news so far, will post again soon!

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Current Mood: excited excited

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Well this is the end of my first full week of mini-retirement, although I have had some interest from people wanting to use my consulting services, so who knows? For this last week I have mostly been doing physical work getting ready for Sustainable House Day this Sunday. I have two aches for every muscle! That's the downside of being a shiny bum office type for all those years. It has been great fun though, getting out and stuck into a lot of stuff that I haven't had time for until now!
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There is all sorts of stuff going on!

The biggest thing is.......... I'm out of a job! The company I was working for was sold off and the national management team, including myself, was no longer required. It was a retrenchment and so I will get a payout that is not too bad. The fact that we have been systematically been reducing debt and getting things done to the house now means we are in pretty good shape. The car goes with the job so we are seeing how we will go without one between now and Christmas. Over the last few weeks we have been stocking up on the bigger, heavier stuff like hay, chook food, bulk meat, flour etc so we can go without having to go out too much. We also have the gear to carry on with our projects to improve sustainability around the house and we will have the time to do more making food and other stuff from scratch at home. It will eb a very frugal lifestyle over the next few months.

Still no concrete word on the book although it isn't dead. There has been some interest in the US but I am still waiting to hear from my contact if anything concrete will come of it.

On another front, the white pages may want me to be on the front cover of their next edition of the Penrith or Sydney white pages as someone who is a champion for sustainable living. It will be some monthe before I hear back, interesting, but I won't hold my breath.

In a similar vein, we spent 2 hours with a very lovely lady from the TV show "60 minutes" who may be doing a story on people living a simpler, more sustainable life. We went through what we are doing with her and she seemed interested but, again, it may be some time before we hear back so I won't hold my breath.

We WILL be opening for sustainable house day this year - 12th of September - And our main focus at the moment it getting the place ready for that. Cleaning out all of the stuff in the garage that I had piled in there for completing projects after I left work was the job of today. Still a bit more work to be done though.

Hopefully with this extra time I will be able to keep this blog updated better than I have been!

Current Mood: excited excited

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Boy it sure is easy to get out of the habit of posting!

The mamre farm cobb oven is now complete and I will be putting an artcile on the website soon. It was a huge amount of fun.

Things are going ahead at work and at least I still have a job after the reshuffle with the parent company. They've also agreed to me going part time - woo hoo - and as of (with luck) the first of September this year I will go to 3 days a week although there is still some negotiating to do.

The garage is being set up as a woodworking shop which will allow both of us to make stuff which we may then sell or just use it for the house. It is already making the work easier for me and quicker too.

Hopefully we will be in Sustainable House day again this year, but I need to email the organiser to check.

I finished off some stuff for the book but have heard nothing for over a month, I need to email my contact there too!

It may be winter but I am still busy, busy, busy!

Current Mood: tired tired

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I've been on holidays since the start of the months and loving every minute!

We had stands down the local shops for two Saturdays and got some interest in the veggie group and the workshop on making a cobb oven at Mamre Farm. The first day of that workshop is this Sunday so it will be interesting to see how that works out.

Last Tuesday we went into town and in the evening I gave a presentation to the Alternative Technology Association on our solar ovens and other solar cookers, as well as the rocket stove. It was well received and I may get more speaking engagements with them. It was a great opportunity to network with people on the same wavelength as us and Linda and I both enjoyed it.

Saturday the first of May was Permaculture Day and we opened our place for the day and got about 20 or so people through. Again it was a great opportunity to discuss what we are doing with people who were interested and i am hoping we will continue to have contact with at least some of the people we met that day.

My contact with the book publisher has returned from her overseas trip and says that there was considerable interest in her book idea. I am hoping to meet with her next week to talk about where things go from here.

Still two weeks worth of holidays left to go so Woo Hoo!

Current Mood: excited excited

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Boy, don't time fly when you are having fun!

Still doing OK althought last weekend wasn't so hot and I had a bad time with the depression/anxiety thing. I recovered about half way through monday. May have to look a little deeper into sorting this out.

I have been working on a book for a publisher lady put on to me by Andy Hamilton. I put together a couple of short articles and a table of contents based on her idea. I will get piad for it (woo hoo) and who knows where it will lead if the idea is taken up. she is going to the UK with the idea and the paperwork and we will have to see what happens. Hopefully I will here something in a couple of weeks.  The book is about sustainable living within the bounds of a house or apartment, which is interesting and somewhat down my alley.

Also next Saturday we will be doing a stand at the local shopping centre to publicise some workshops we will be running with Mamre House. Again this is really exciting stuff and a great opportunity to teach people some valuable skills. Hopefully all will go well.

I will be on holidays from work in may, and boy am I looking forward to that. I think I need a rest!

Current Mood: tired tired

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Today Linda and I went down to chippendale to look at Michael Mobbs sustainable house. It was great to see and if you get a chance it is well worth while. Michael himself is understated with a dry wit, and very entertaining. He is happy to tell you about his mistakes as well as the things that went right, so the visit was valuable and I came back with 3 or 4 things to add to the to-do list, including the need to put a vent in behind the 12 volt fridge in the floor to improve ventilation and efficiency of the fridge.

I have also been toying with getting an Aerobin compost bin, more efficient than the standard plastic squared bins I have, producting what I think will be a better compost. Seeing Michaels' one today along with the ones the council installed in their local park, I may just get one. Linda had seen one and was impressed too.

btw, the beard is growing back, slowly but surely. The sight of my own bare face in the mirror was weirding me out!

There is some good stuff going on - I now have the third bath to make the vertical constructed wetland, and I am talking about doing some work on a book with a lady tomorrow, but more on that as things develop.

Fun times!

Current Mood: excited excited

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.........without my beard!

It's gone and I raised over $1000 for the leukaemia foundation, so all went well. I'm pretty sure I will be growing the beard back though. There is this weirdo that keeps looking back at me from the mirror and it is just too unnerving.

The composting toilet is finished but not yet in use and there is the first part of an article on the website about it.

A couple of weeks ago i emailed some local papers to see if they were interested in a regular or semiregular column on sustainable living in the suburbs. I had heard nothing back so figured they weren't interested but then on Friday I got an email from one asking for a sample article. so we'll see where that goes.

We will also be opening for a permaculture open day on the 1st of May, in a similar way to what we do on sustainable house day. So we are looking forward to that!

and yesterday I finally got around to replacing the shelf that the top battery bank sists on with a new shelf but also a reinforeced wooden shelf to help take the load. It was on the way to collapsing and I was afraid I would lose the top bank. After putting it of for months it is done! feels good!

Current Mood: tired tired

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http://my.imisfriendraising.com.au/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=3357

It's been a fairly big week, two articles on the website and one in preparation, plus a stack of new links added and the "to do" list now has a permanent place on the front page.

I've also put myself down for the Leukaemia research - Shave for a cure. The beard comes off in two weeks! My wife has never seen me without the Mo and the kids have never seen me without the beard. So click on the link above and if you have a mind to, donate!

I've also emailed 4 local papers to see if any are after a regular sustainable living column, so we'll see about that one. I've had another meeting with Rachel from Mamre farm and put together some ideas for the shopping centre visits and training session at Mamre farm, the first one will be on (hopefully solar) bread baking)

Today I was at a planning session with Transition Sydney and it was good to talk to old friends and meet some new ones, I even got to talk about the website and Mamre farm! Good stuff.

Still haven't finished the composting toilet thought....

Next week for sure!

Current Mood: excited excited

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