It is time to give you an update on life car-free and refrigerator-free.
Car-free living has been surprisingly smooth for for me even though the last time I was car-free I was 17 years old. There is much I forgot in the 33 years since I was last without a car.
Living with a car in many ways becomes a habit. We are safely locked away behind our windshield, protected from rain and wind, moving at a faster pace of life. We can get to just about anywhere locally in a matter of minutes and can go great distances in a fraction of the time it would take to travel by foot or schedule alternative ways of traveling.
Yet, it has been refreshing to feel the wind gust or try planning to avoid the rain. I look forward to hearing the birds, something I didn’t hear in my air conditioned car. What I have enjoyed the most is the long forgotten feeling of seeing everything. While I don’t enjoy getting a close up look at the trash that litters my town, I have met so many wonderful people. Meeting them, has enhanced my life in many ways, a couple becoming friends, I would like to think I have enhanced even a few moments of theirs as well.
Early last spring as I was heading to the grocery store I spotted a woman weeding her flower beds. These beds separate the road (a minor highway) from her yard and are beautiful to watch bloom. I began to look forward to seeing what new flowers were up each time I went buy. This particular day, I had to stop to let her know how much I looked forward each day to seeing her garden. She in turn thanked me and told me some days she wants to give up and just plant hedges like many of her other neighbors, but now that she knows how much I enjoy it she was going to keep weeding and hope others enjoy it as well.
Because I was without a car, one day on the way to the hardware store I spotted a small bench with Penn State’s emblem on it, my ex loves Penn State and I usually pick him up something for Christmas when we get together to be with our son. I not only wouldn’t have noticed this from a car driving down the street, but I wouldn’t have seen the tiny price sticker which read $1. It called my ex’s name, I asked kindly if it could be held till I returned from the hardware store (it was) and then carried it home. What I didn’t know is that my ex had been looking for something of the same size and height to put in front of his one chair, I hear all the time now how perfect it is. If I had a car I would have been out searching for something for him almost up to Christmas day and most likely would have spent much more than a measly dollar.
Shopping for groceries takes a proper list to be sure I don’t over buy and not have a way to carry everything home. At the same time, it has reduced the amount of food that spoils before I can eat it.
Traveling into the city is something I do very rarely, but for when I do need to go into the city I found that the bus will stop in front of my apartment building. Total cost for a 26 mile round trip will only cost me $2.20. My car got 28 -30 mpg and at current prices would have cost me $3.76 for the one gallon I would need to drive into the city. If I need a transfer to another part of town via the bus that will cost me an additional .10. Again quite a savings is added up right there and that’s not including wear and tear on the car’s brakes and tires or the cost of insurance.
- Wiper fluid
- Transmission fluid
- Extra wiper blades
- Fuel injector cleaner
- Tire guage
- Spare tire (I won’t use those donut tires)
- Ice scraper and snow brush
When my fridge died as I was defrosting it all I could do was laugh. Seriously, I have found that any situation can be less stressful if you can find something funny about it and my grandson’s wide eyes and remark of “Oh, oh that doesn’t sound good” as we heard hissing coming from the fridge was enough to make me smile and know it wasn’t the end of the world.
As I contemplated the demise of the fridge I realized that I didn’t usually have much in it any way. If I make a pot of soup I end up getting pretty tired eating it every day to finish it off before it goes bad, I do like a little more variety in my meals. So I took stock of what needed refrigeration and what could be left out, I really only bought one thing regularly that needed refrigeration in my mind and that was my eggs, but then I was informed that even that wasn’t true.
I started to use the trunk of (previously) my car which my son parked here for winter to store things I wanted to keep cold. This has worked well, but I have had to watch the forecast for any warming weather to speed up finishing leftovers before the warmer days arrived. For the most part I have been making smaller, individual sized meals and finishing them that day to avoid going out in the cold to get food.
One good thing that came out of this is that I rarely have any food waste. I don’t miss the fridge at all and know that as the weather warms I will purchase a freezer to store food for winter in and will be able to again make large batches of food that I can freeze, divided into smaller portions, eliminating my need to eat the same meal all week.
With an assessment of what I can live without there are many things that I took for granted which since moving I have not missed. The following are things I no longer have.
- Microwave: I haven’t had one in almost ten years and don’t miss it at all
- Toaster/toaster oven: I rarely eat bread, it just doesn’t agree with me. Since I want to enjoy it when I have it a toaster didn’t make sense, I prefer not to have my bread burned :-)While I used to reheat in a toaster oven, giving that up meant I needed a way to reheat foods, my rice cooker does a great job and rather quickly I might add.
- Immersion blender: I had both a regular blender (all metal and glass that belonged to my grandparents) and a plastic immersion blender. This just took up space and while it was convenient there isn’t anything I can’t do in the full-sized blender
- Pans and bake ware: without a stove there was no need to hold on to these. Muffin pans, cake pans, cookies trays, cooling racks etc have all found new homes and I have less need of cabinetry to store them in.
- Range hood: without a stove there is no need to vent the exhaust from the stove.
- I used to have two metal colanders, why? Because one was smaller than the other. Today I have one, the larger one works fine regardless of how much food I am straining or rinsing.
- Coffee Pot: I don’t drink coffee, can’t stand the smell of it either. I owned one to be able to make coffee for guests. Now within 3/4 of a mile there are 7 places guests can get coffee if they want it, or I can offer them coffee bags and heat water for them. If you can’t live without coffee for a day or two, I don’t really feel it’s my job to provide, store or make it when I don’t drink it.