Monday, July 23, 2012

What's New Since Moving to Portland

A lot of good has happened since moving to Portland.  I'm in a healthier place, I'm living a healthier life, and I'm making good connections.  In this post, I'd like to share some of the changes that have come about for me since moving to Portland, and how they relate to my homesteading goals, to a healthier me, and to a healthier planet.  Not to say that any of my blog posts are very polished, but this post will be very unpolished, and more of a listing off of thoughts.

  • Kelsey and I moved our stuff down to Portland on April 21st.  I got to stay down here, while Kelsey went back to Olympia to finish out her job obligations.  She joined me on May 1st.  The reasoning behind the move was two-fold.  I didn't like working for the person I worked for, and so enacted a transfer to a store here in Portland because I do still appreciate the way the company operates.  Kelsey's half of the reasoning is far more exciting.  She was accepted into nursing school, which is something she has been working hard towards for several years.  She began nursing school in late June, and will finish up next Fall.  We have discussed it at length, and think that we will try to buy land soon after she gets a job after graduating.  Starting the homestead in earnest is getting closer everyday.  
  • Portland has a far superior public transit system to that which is present in Olympia.  Since moving down from Olympia, I have definitely driven my Durango less than 50 miles, and probably less than 30, though I did not look at my odometer when I arrived in Portland, which is unfortunate.  Taking public transit is not only easier on the environment from an emissions standpoint, but it is easier on my pocketbook as well.  At $4+ a gallon, I was easily spending $160-180 a month on gasoline.  Add in the cost of my insurance at $100 a month and my monthly costs came out to around $300, and that doesn't factor in the cost of routine maintenance.  Here in Portland, I get a discounted monthly bus pass through my work for $41, and because I drive less my monthly insurance is about $65.  This puts my average monthly transportation cost around $100, so I've cut those costs by two-thirds.  Easier on the planet, easy on my pocketbook.  A side benefit of taking the bus is reduced stress, increased reading time, and increased time to listen to podcasts... which I'll go into in greater depth.
  • My thirst for permaculture knowledge has gone into hyperdrive, mostly as a function of increased time available to pursue it.  Since moving to Portland, I have listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts that have to do with homesteading and permaculture.  I have read Gaia's Garden and Sepp Holzer's Permaculture in their entirety.  I have a reading list so long that there is absolutely no chance I'll ever finish it in my lifetime, but having time to consume more and more information that will be directly useful to my homesteading is a fantastic feeling that is making me more and more confident that I'll be able to realize my dreams.  This increase in time is the result of two factors.  One is the extra hour or two everyday that I have to listen to podcasts or read while taking public transportation, and the other (and major) reason is a function of my job.  I am frequently scheduled to work "truck" shifts.  This means I start work at 7am, and help stock the sales floor with new product.  Because our store doesn't open until 10am, I am able to listen to podcasts for several hours each morning.  I'm approaching a point at which the people producing the podcasts I find informational may not be able to keep up with the time I have to consume them.  I find this a good problem to have, as it means less time listening to podcasts on the bus or at home, which means I have more time to read.  Coming up on my reading list are The All New Square Foot Gardening and Edible Forest Gardens, as well as some fiction that helps keep my mood high.  The final factor that is helping me consume so much information is having a stellar library system conveniently within walking distance from my apartment, which allows me to read more books than I can afford to buy at this time.
  • And speaking of walking, this leads me to another of the healthier practices I've started since moving.  My use of "self-powered locomotion" has increased as much as my driving has decreased.  I have several bars, grocery stores, restaurants, dog parks, and a library all within walking distance of my apartment.  On top of that, I walk about a mile and a half to and from bus stops on days that I work.  I haven't tracked how much I walk, but I know it is a lot more than I was in Olympia.  At the beginning of October last year (after I had been in Olympia for about 8 months), I weighed about 235 lbs.  I currently weigh about 205 lbs.  There are some other contributing factors that I'll get into in another post, but the walking has been major.  Along with walking, I'm riding my bicycle more all the time, and would like to get into the habit of riding it more than taking the bus.
  • One of the things I love about my apartment complex is the community garden space.  Kelsey and I got a space a couple of months ago, and we've been experimenting with our garden ever since.  We have most of the usual stuff planted, like carrots, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, greens, peppers, and squash.  We also "cover-cropped" with strawberries and some flowers, though those aren't doing well.  And we're experimenting with ground-cherries, asparagus, and the design of our garden itself.  This warrants a more detailed post later, so look forward to that.
  • Portland is home to many many permaculture enthusiasts.  As I've written about before, it's one of the factors that led me to choose this area as where I wanted to homestead.  I haven't found quite the right fit yet, but I'm working on meeting permaculture folks that I can volunteer and/or apprentice with.  I guess this might not quite fit into this post because it isn't something that's actually new since moving to Portland, but it will be soon as I feel like I'm close to meeting someone that'll be a good fit to work with.
There are many little things I've left out deliberately, and more still that I've probably forgotten about, but if I tried to include them all this post would be far too long.  I'll share more in another catch-up post, the format of which I plan to talk more about in a post very soon.  I've actually planned out a posting "schedule" so that I have a framework to work within, which is part of my attempt to post more regularly and turn this blog into something more than it has been over the last 3 years.

Thank you so much for reading, and please share anything that comes to mind in the comments.

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