Can You Quit Your Car?

Meep. Meep.

I recently read a blog post by a friend over at EcoBuffalo. They were checking in with their reading audience (of which I’m a part!) about their 3 months of living car-free. I am so genuinely happy for them that they’re able to live life without the added cost of owning and using a vehicle, without contributing to the fossil fuel crisis, and while truly experiencing their surroundings by walking, biking, and utilizing public transportation. It’s frickin’ awesome!

I haven’t made it a secret that I’m not very pleased with the purchase of my current vehicle, a 2009 Kia Sportage. There are a number of reasons for this, from gas usage (and cost) to the price of owning a new car (which lost value immediately upon buying the thing) to the fact that the thing has a pretty big eco-footprint. *sigh*

But, at the same time, there’s a reason I bought it. I had just gone through two hellish winters working at an uber-rural school, losing control of my old lil’ Sentra at LEAST once a week, and several times ending up in ditches. I wanted 4-wheel drive. I’d done a lot of research, and my sister and mother both own Kias — which they love. Also, admittedly, I wasn’t in a very green state of mind at the time of purchase. So, call it a regret, but it is what it is.

Reading Dana and Jon’s new-found joys of life without a car, it makes me think about whether it’s something that we could do. Unfortunately, I jump to the quick conclusion that it just isn’t feasible with our current living situation and jobs. *double sigh*

We’ve got 2 cars, the Kia and Dave’s Saturn Ion. It’d be pretty much impossible for Dave to carpool into work; there really isn’t anyone with a similar schedule close enough to where we live (most of ’em are in the Utica area, or boonies). My little issue with carpooling is the general fact that I don’t stay late at work, so I’d probably be waiting around for folks to be ready to pile in. I probably could figure something out, but it’d also mean that I’d still have my car — one week would be mine, another week Mr. X, another week Miss X. *shrugs* Wouldn’t solve the problem of being able to get rid of one of our cars, really.

Some day, when circumstances are a little different (ie one of us working from home — won’t give any further indication of whom or how, just that it’s in the works ;-D), I think that we will be able to live off of one car.

That being said, I’ve got a couple of “dream car” ideas that I’ll just indulge myself in. Obviously, we’re going to drive these cars into the ground as best we can — but, if I’m able to eventually trade mine in, I’d rather not take it quite THAT far. I’d love to have a hybrid vehicle, but given that technology will undoubtedly be different by the time that I’ll be shopping, I’ll be doing more research before making such a decision. Otherwise, I’ve always wanted a VW SportWagen or Jetta, or perhaps a Subaru wagon. I like being able to fit antiques, tons of gardening dirt, or simply pack for a family vacation, so a wagon seems sensible. I highly doubt that I’ll own another SUV, though. Sportage is supposed to be a smaller SUV, but when I got it home it was about the same size as my mother’s Sorrento — man, was I disappointed.

So, what about you? Would you be able to quit YOUR car? I wish I was in a situation that a car would be less needed, but, unfortunately, there are simply too many excuses to keep mine.

My Latest Idea…
Howdy! Sorry I’ve been slightly MIA lately — I’ve been dedicating most of myself to the theater. So, with a little time on my hands this Friday evening, I thought I’d share with you an idea I happened upon today. Some of you may already know about it and others may think is nuts.

Composting, inside the house.

While I’m still planning on amending my summertime composting fiasco (can we say “too much rain”?), I would like to prove to myself that I can compost. There are several reasons that I like the idea of composting, no, NEED to know how to compost. a) It’ll cut down on our waste, hence lessen our footprint; b) I’ve got some major garden planning going on in this ol’ brain and nutrient-rich compost will definitely be a plus; c) I get down on myself if I don’t keep try-try-trying when I fail; d) I want our kids to know how to compost someday, so why don’t we get into the habit of it now? Another reason to learn more specifically about composting inside is that I’ll be able to do it 365 days a year. Man, it’s a bummer looking out at the snow-covered bump in the backyard.

So, there are a few types of inside composting, but I’m thinking of focusing on the one that seems to be the least smelly and, well, the coolest. It’s called vermi-composting, which reminds me of vermicelli…and makes me wonder if “vermi” means worm (wormy pasta?!). Yes, it uses wormies. Red wiggler worms. Isn’t that cute?!?! We get new pets (um, a thousand or so) out of it. Hee hee.

I learned how to start a vermi-compost bin from, of all places, a Martha Stewart interview with David Hyde Pierce from a few years back. Here’s a link to the article and the 10+ minute-long interview. (Another plus to the interview: Dave and I LOVE David Hyde Pierce, saw him in the show that he’s talking about (“Curtains”), and I happen to adore “Spamalot”. It’s also fun to see how sooooo not into composting he seems, tee hee.)

I’ll have to get together enough supplies before even ordering the worms since a lot of the reviews say that they arrive pretty quickly — and if I’m not ready for them, they may not be very happy lil’ guys.

So, keep an eye out for a follow-up post on how I start composting — inside! I foresee a mid-winter break project…

Wearflee and Binston

I don’t hate you…if you just keep sleeping and don’t attack me.

I think it’s about time to give an update on our kitty situation, since we’ve officially been over a month that we became a two-cat household. While it’s definitely been an adjustment for all four of us, we’ve come a long way! There was a point when we didn’t feel right leaving the house for fear that they’d kill each other, eat the fish, or do something else as equally naughty. But, hey, guess what. We can leave now! Obviously, or else we wouldn’t be doing our latest show at the theater. 🙂

Winston has brought good and bad into the house. We love him like a son (that son who acts out a lot…you know the one), so we’re allowed to talk about his flaws as much as we can brag about what makes him great. The first bummer is the fact that his stomach seems to be constantly “off.” Yuck. Arm-in-arm with this is the fact that he has HORRIBLE aim in his litter pan. Double yuck. We get it on walls, the floor, and almost always smeared along the edge of the pan (and regularly on his feet, tail, etc). Gee, I hope, dear reader, you’re not eating. Sorry if you are!

I’m Winfton. Ftringf are my favorite.

I vowed to myself I wouldn’t do it, but I may try to get him to eat a different cat food. His stool has been tested twice, count it, twice, but nothing seems wrong. He’s had an upper-respiratory infection so we’ve got him on medication that’s supposed to take care of that, but also, as the vet says, his potty problem…to no avail. But, since both of the boys enjoy harassing each other by eating out of each other’s dish, I’d have to feed him when I’m home (and probably give him a little each day). Why can’t they each eat the same new food? Beardslee’s allergic to fish, and almost all the other food we’ve found has fish meal in it. Yeah. High maintenance much?

Winston, as a personality and physical presence, is wily and sly, childish and funny, sleek and sharp. Figuratively and literally. Since he’s so lanky and thin, it seems that it applies to almost everything about him — teeth and claws included. And that makes for painful pill sessions. Those claws have left a few very obnoxious, deep but thin scratches. Can’t blame him much for fighting back, though.

Otay, buddy. I’ll ftand guard. You fleep.
Mmm, birdf.

During the first couple of weeks, Winston’s looks scared me a bit. He’s a dark gray with a frosting of light gray depending on how the light hits him. A bit of a Halloween cat. I’m quite sure I colored a picture that looked a lot like him when I was a child. Throw in his yellowish green eyes, long fangs and propensity to quietly move and sneak up on you and you can see why he was a little frightening. Those fangs, however, helped us to consider him differently. Depending on whether he has control over those
two little sharpies, you’ll occasionally see them peeping out from below his upper lip. One day, it occurred to me that the voice we’d been using to portray his thoughts (yeah, we do put a voice to our cats — their interactions seem to call out for dialogue sometimes) was all wrong. While his voice is lower than Beardslee’s, he’s so young-acting that it just didn’t seem right. But, throw a speech impediment in there and you’re cooking with gas — “Mama. Bearflee if eatin’ in my dif.” A lot like a Kids in the Hall character, we think. Or, perhaps, a bit like that damn Gilly from SNL. Only adorable!

I think the best way to show a day in the life of Winston, in his new home, and Beardslee, adjusting to his new brother, is a comparison. They certainly are brothers — if those two brothers are pretty much polar opposites. Their only similarities lie in cat behavior and instinct — generally sleeping, eating, and play fighting.

We weren’t fightin’ a minute ago. It’s baftime!
Beardslee’s a roly poly boy, round in every sense of the word (his head, his belly, his paws, his eyes) while Winston is sleek and long and, at times, elegant — like an Egyptian cat. Beardslee’s bad at being a cat, thanks to his hardships — he’s got nearly zero balance ability and sucks at climbing or running; Winston’s the perfect cat, even when it means he climbs too high or gets in trouble for knocking things (thank goodness, not the fish!) over. Boo acts old, even though he’s maaaaayyyybe 6 months older than Wee-Wee — he sleeps at least twice as long everyday, is slow-moving and often looks at us as if to say he’s tired of playing with his brother, take him away now. At the same time, Winston seems younger than the age we were told at the humane society — very kitten-like and playful to a fault, and adores climbing into our bed to poke and prod and play with our faces, hardly ever sleeping — always alert and almost scared of what’s happening in his invisible world. Their physical appearances (round and orange, bony thin and gray) mirror how dissimilar they are in actions. Probably why giving them a red and blue collar (and Martin toys…we name toys, too, yes…if they’re going to be such a HUGE part of our daily lives, strewn all over the house, they get personalities, too!) seemed appropriate.

Look, I handfome and purdy.

And, yet, they’re friends. Friends who fight. A lot. But who, at the end of the day, can lay close and sleep peacefully or eat right next to each other or give one another a bath. Winston has drawn some of the kitten out of Beardslee, who tries to keep up and can hold his own in a fight — heck, Beardslee generally starts them, even though Winston runs circles around him. And, yet, Boo hasn’t lost an ounce of weight from trrrrryyyyyyiiiing to chase Win up the stairs. He’s definitely more active, but I think the fight for food may have created a hoarder. Beardslee, at times, seems to be telling Winston the rules…or, perhaps leading him astray. Many a time do we find Win committing an infraction, looking guilty, with Beardslee sitting regally nearby, watching in satisfaction. Oh, brothers.

So, these are our boys. They’ve gotten quite used to each other, and we try to be fair to show the same amount of affection to both. It may sound silly, but Boo does look terribly dejected sometimes when Winston is receiving hugs and kisses. And when we relish the old face rubs Beardslee so rarely bestows upon us now, Wee seems to be saying “Wait…what? What about me?” We’re definitely getting ready for parenthood, thanks to these little rascals!


 And, time for some gratuitous cat pictures.

Where’s MY blog?
We fight, but here are no losers.
Not sure what he’s hugging in his sleep…

Surprise! No, this isn’t Winston.
We’re thinking it’s a sibling or parent, but she’s been
residing in our garage. Too skiddish to catch. But, at least she’s got a
place to stop and grab a bite or warm shelter during the winter.
(And, no, I don’t know if it’s a girl or a boy.)

Heart Walk 2011

 So, while I feel all warm and fuzzy that I’ve signed up to participate with my school’s group at this year’s Heart Run and Walk, there’s a slight alterior motive for doing so. Dave’s covering the event for work, and I felt pretty badly last year that I didn’t sign up to do it — although I ended up spending time with some creative kids and teachers at Pen in Hand (looks like I won’t have any participants this year).

I’ve done the event in the past with my sister’s work group, but hearing that my school had a group (and, apparently, tons of kids) going, it felt like the push I needed to fill out the online form.

There’s another selfish reason that I decided to do it. (Here I am talking as if this is a marathon or something — it ain’t, it’s just a walk to raise money and awareness for heart disease and stroke.) I recently found out that Dave has a history of heart disease in his father’s family, and since his, erm, “body type” seems to indicate that he’s got his father’s genes, I’ll do anything in my power to try to reduce his risks. What can I say? I want him around as long as I can have him.

So, I’ll be raising some money to help the cause. If you see it in your heart and agree with the cause enough to give, I’d greatly appreciate it. But, of course, I don’t expect anyone to donate, since that’s not what this blog is all about. 🙂 Thanks for reading, though!