Independence Days – My ‘To Be Read’ Pile Expanded

I’ve been taking it easy this weekend because I do not want to risk a relapse of the illness that’s been dogging me for two weeks. After a couple of cups of coffee yesterday, my brain recovered from the fog and I managed to get to the library. This is my ‘To Be Read’ pile at the moment. I don’t imagine I’ll get through all of these books this month, but I like to have a variety of books at home to choose from as the mood takes me.

The Librarian noticed I was checking out Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and began singing Jared Diamond’s praises. Apparently he comes to San Diego most summers to give a presentation at the Natural History Museum. I’ll have to keep an eye out for him. I really enjoyed his documentary Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Because I’ve been housebound all week, I’ve also been listening to quite a few podcasts. These are a fantastic editions to any iPod and I listen to them all the time when I’m travelling or when I want to give my eyes a rest from reading. One podcast I can recommend is Radio Ecoshock. I think it started out as a scientific show based mostly on environmental issues, but since I’ve been listening there has been a wide variety of topics including energy depletion and societal collapse. Two of my favourite authors, Dmitry Orlov and John Michael Greer were on last weeks show. You can also subscribe to Radio Ecoshock on iTunes.

Ok, onto this weeks roundup based on my self-sufficiency, independence and lifestyle planning goals


  • We finally bought a first aid kit for the car. We got the large Johnson & Johnson First Aid Kit, which is surprisingly comprehensive for a such a compact box.
  • Brendan also bought the Energizer Rechargeable Compact Charger and Energizer DUO USB Charger to recharge all the rechargeable batteries in our headlamps, portable lanterns etc. We have a couple of small solar panels which Brendan is going to try to adapt so that they can charge our batteries via a USB cable. He’s smart like that, so I hope it works.

Getting Off the Economic Grid

  • Brendan’s bike maintenance business is still growing. One of our neighbours popped over the other day to see whether Brendan could fix her daughter’s bike. This is fantastic, because Brendan had been hoping to break into the ‘local’ market rather than continuing to rely on other ex-pats for his work.
  • Brendan also starts conducting personal training down at our local park this week. Finally, after more than two years here everything seems to be falling into place. I guess it helps that we aren’t always travelling this year. It just goes to show that it really does take time to make yourself a part of a community.

Stockpiling Food

  • I finally dealt with all those collards in my garden. I chopped back about a third of the leaves, then blanched and froze them to eat some other day.

Grow some food

  • In addition to freezing the best of the collards, the less than perfect leaves became compost tea; a very efficient way of turning something inedible into free fertiliser!
  • We’ve been eating beet greens, collard greens, spinach, snow peas, onion and leek fresh from the garden. We’re also still enjoying tomato relish, orange relish, apple jam, tomato sauce and cayenne peppers from our garden reserves.
  • I’m still amazed how much food we’ve actually managed to produce in the last year given the small space we have to work with, our complete novice status and limited time we’ve had at home. This started out as an experiment but I think it’s turned into a way of life.

Reducing Energy Dependence

  • A few months ago Brendan did a hands-on course on Solar PV Installation and Design. He’s very much a technically minded person and has a real interest in energy auditing and efficiency. This week, he has been working on designing a generic document to help some friends in Australia understand the various credits and tariff systems available and determine the correct sized Solar PV system for their circumstances. It seems like there are a lot of people out there ‘investing’ in Solar PV without understanding all the details. There doesn’t seem to be much unbiased advice available so people are relying on what salespeople tell them, and unfortunately that means they are buying Solar systems that are much larger than they need (which can cost many thousands of dollars more than it needs to). If anyone is interested in the information, I’m sure Brendan will write-up a post for this blog.

Hedge against disaster

  • When Brendan and I recently undertook some short-term disaster planning, it became obvious to us that the most likely type of disaster we could face would be a house fire. Of course we have insurance to cover the replacement of items that might be lost to fire, but there are some things that simply cannot be replaced. For this reason, we purchased a fireproof box this week. In it we’ll keep important documents, passports, photos and backup hard drives for our computers (although I’m not sure that the data would survive the heat). The one we have is rated to survive in fire for an hour which I figure is reasonable based our proximity to neighbours and the fire department.


  1. Mia, I have only read Collapse from the books pictured, but know of most of the others. You should be in for some good reading.

    Collapse is possibly the thing that cemented the significance of resource depletion and over-population for me and fundamentally changed the direction of my life. The lessons in Collapse are stark and clear.

    Regarding the garden, it’s surprising just how much produce can be grown in a small area if you have water and good soil. We made a very tasty mushroom and spinach risotto last week using silverbeet leaves for one scrappy little plant that just keeps on growing. Can’t seem to kill the thing.

    Thanks for the link to Radio Ecoshack. I am looking forward to exploring it.

    Sounds like you are feeling better this week. Hope that continues.

  2. Sounds great, glad you are starting to feel better! That reading pile looks awesome. You are doing great with your Independence Day plans… I made soup with all the collards I had, but next time will try blanching & freezing them!

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