IN the spirit of Grootvlei, my dwelling mothballed its
inherited under floor heating technology around the same time that power
savings swept fashionably across suburbs, dorps and urban homes a few years
This patriotism took a seasonal sojourn in July this year as
a gnarly cold front lashed the good people of the Cape.
And so, in tune with grand plans to splash the 32-year old
power station in Mpumalanga with a paint brush before they flip the ON button,
a frosty finger reached with very little ceremony to ignite the healing powers
of warm air that breathes life back into the icy tiles of urban Cape Town.
As we adjusted to the bright and uninterrupted blinks of a
pre-paid electricity meter light, a seed of despair sprouted at the reality
that bliss will mature into hefty and continuous reloading.
With not much to show now, other than five fingers per hand
that mercifully survived the bitterness of the weather, we are left with
evidence to count the impact of this indulgence.
I’m told it is my adult duty to keep an eye on the
allocation of expenses. The sting I observe in modern day priorities unfold in
the following allocation of total household monthly expenses for July 2012, and
the explanation I offer to the auditors:
Repairs & Maintenance: 3%
Replacing rusty burglar bars on the west wing (aka bathroom
window), patching rising damp walls and appointing a handy man from a social
mediaplatform to do so, dampen the sparks from rising water levels, and impress
insurance companies alike.
Entertainment & Travel: 20%
Living on the threshold of some of the world’s most
celebrated winelands, Karoo and scenic drives around the Peninsula, it will be
a sin not to factor in a bit of exploring. Local travels are very trendy.
Admittedly an eye-raiser for the non-informed, but keep in
mind, a big sale in the Constantia valley in July, aiding stock-ups on
emergency winter-warming supplies.
In case I was too subtle so far, this line represents the
ire of my writings this week, or pondering if I have to be slightly more
passive about it. With the exception of the re-discovered joys of under floor
heating over a two-week period, this household has done little to upset our
ongoing efforts to cut back on energy consumption.
We have dinner by candlelight (or a braai when it’s
possible); the garden gnome has adjusted to the off-blue pool after the pump
has been rationed; shower time has been trimmed to wash appropriate bits only.
And yet, the allocation of this budget line seems rather lopsided.
Or have you made peace already with something I’m only
grinding at now?
Food & detergents: 29%
Man must live, and the choice to cut back on restaurant
jaunts and the local pub has resulted in a steady inflow of goods from markets,
where possible locally produced.
This is a column-in-wagging for another day. He’s furry, has
boiled-sweets as eyes and I suspect this allocation may rise steadily as he
shakes memories of his SPCA-days and warms up to the organic food his vet
promotes. The percentage included once-off welcoming, relocation and
repatriation-related expenses though.
Human Resources: 18%
The angels that keep our lives clean, cooked and bright
deserve a standing, non-negotiable line on this household’s budget. Our
involvement in their stories and the lives of their families fill our hearts
and social media pages. Remind me to tell you about the spirit of one daughter
who recently graduated from the Chrysalis Academy in the Western Cape.
Returning to the dead tree in the vacant plot down the road
to inspect its feasibility as firewood, I stare straight up the next cold front
as it claws into my sleepy street. I promise #Ben a treat if he sits on my cold
feet back home. But the under floor budget-gnawer remains dormant even as Grootvlei starts lighting up slowly a
thousand miles away.
* While Adriaan side-eyes the foreign lines of his budget
spreadsheet, he takes a break on Twitter as @aiBester while he co-ponders the
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