May 5, 2022 at 1:18 pm (Uncategorized)

Not long ago, I wrote about my two main hustles (my family, and my writing) and my ten side hustles.

Things are changing quickly, so here’s what’s currently going on (in the same order as last entry):

  1. Shooting Through escape rooms.

I found a staff person! She’s smart, funny, and capable. Her kitchen floor has a hole in it so she’s not storing the game there at the moment, but we went to Nimmitabel’s Steampunk @ Altitude festival last weekend and we’ve made a plan for the future which involves me doing… basically nothing… and getting a little bit of money every so often. Isn’t that the dream?

If that goes well, we’ll activate the second room (the first is MADAM ALCHEMIST and the second is THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING ROOM which is in an array of suitcases shoved into odd places around my house at present, and would need a bit of effort to set up properly. Like 5 hours.)

2. Murder in the Mail/Magic in the Mail.

I recently gave away the last 26 copies of the postal version of “Murder in the Mail: A Bloody Birthday” (keeping one) which at least freed up some space so I can package up the “Magic in the Mail” stories.

So… improvement, at least.

I’ve been failing to log into my main online store site for several weeks now. I can’t even figure out my username, which really shouldn’t be this hard. I… don’t know what to do. Hopefully I’ll get onto that real soon.

3. Aspergirl Adventures.

I haven’t done all the videos I planned to do about Queensland… and my computer is still so loaded up with videos that it’s misbehaving due to lack of memory. It keeps shutting down and at some point it will probably just explode, and I’ll lose my eyebrows, my novels, and priceless hundreds of family photos and videos.

So that’s not ideal.

But… it’s not like anyone is paying me, or depending on the videos. So I’m fairly chill about only doing those videos when I feel like it.

4. Babysitting.

I actually have a small bit of regular babysitting now, which is within my capabilities (ie I don’t have to get out of the car). 2-4 days a fortnight I fetch my sister’s kids from school and deliver them home. She pays me 12.50 each time.

5. Recumbent Bike Hire?

I have not done anything about this, and don’t plan to. Good choice, me.

6. Castle of Kindness Refugee Sponsorship Group.

This is my main charity focus, and staying that way. It’s incredibly challenging and time-consuming and seems to involve at least one public breakdown (on my part) per mentee family. Worth it.

This is, in many ways, what I do.

7. Art by Qusay Fadheel.

This is fairly easy. I just take some of Qusay’s prints with me whenever I’m running a stall. And I use him whenever I need an artist (and pay him). There’s very little money in it, but the balance of the business account is slowly rising rather than falling. That’s the goal, really, isn’t it?

8. West Belco Food Pantry.

This is costly in terms of both money and energy but I don’t feel able to just quit because I know that kids have avoided going hungry because their parent had my pantry to lean on in an emergency.

Early this year I began partnering with the Indigenous Justice Health officer to make ‘Homeward Hampers’ for Indigenous detainees who are re-joining the community. I am THRILLED to be able to do something useful for Indigenous people, especially those who are directly effected by the innate and ongoing racism of the police and justice system.

A lot of people immediately came on board to help, and I got carried away and made HUGE hampers worth about $250 each. I thought I’d work real hard in January and then not do anything the rest of the year. Lolz… It’s May now, and I’m ALMOST finished. And ended up putting way too much of my own money into it too.

BUT I have just found a sponsor for the pantry who is going to make a monthly donation. I don’t yet know how much it will be but I am so, so glad to have that help.

9. Platypus Playgroup.

It took a lot of hours of work, but I have now successfully implemented the exit plan I had in mind from the start. The Platypus Playgroup is now doing great and I don’t have to show up—ever. Every so often I get an email from someone who wants to join the group, and I tell them how. That’s it. So technically I’m still involved, but only a teeny tiny bit.

10. The Castle.

Here’s what I wrote last time:

Before I was able to form the Castle of Kindness, I dreamed a large and complicated dream.

I want to help design an enormous house that looks like a castle (basically a square, with towers and crenelations and a flat roof) that has one giant room on the bottom floor (for events and for emergency accommodation for disabled/autistic people), and adjustable living quarters on the other two floors (so various combinations of people can live there, eg 2 singles and a 3-kid family; 5 singles; etc). It would be accessible for wheelchair users as well as people who are Hard of Hearing or have Low Vision or temperature sensitivity or smoke sensitivity. It would have Aboriginal art inside and out, and facilities for cooking lessons or big movie nights, and maybe even an inside pool and/or spa (gentle exercise and/or pain relief). It would have solar power including a battery (so it was insured against power outages), and be as bushfire and storm safe as a house can be.

I reckon it would cost about 2 million to build, plus about a million just for the land. Because ideally it would be near my house—a great location for disabled people, as the Kippax shopping (and medical) centres are close by, and there are several great local community organisations here too.

This hustle has a building designer on board, and that’s about as far as I’ve gotten (not nothing). But it’s something Canberra needs, and whoever manages to build it will make a massive profit from renting both the living spaces and the conference spaces (the lower room and the roof—and presumably the yard too). It would be a great place for disabled refugees to live—within a mini community that could hopefully help one another (and they could also be hired as event organisers, cleaners, or gardeners—or they could run cooking classes, art exhibitions, etc).

Brace yourself, because this is going to sound literally insane (and believe me, I hear it too): I think God has told me that my family is going to move to a specific big, beautiful house near us (not as owners, but as renters—which we definitely couldn’t afford at the moment).

It is zoned for two dwellings, so the owners could potentially build a two-story granny flat with a pool on the lower floor and disability-friendly housing on the top—including at least one tower. It is suitable for emergency accommodation and for moderately-sized community stuff as the living room is giant (60 square metres), so I could host events of 100 people inside or 300ish with combined inside/outside spaces (the yard is big enough to fit another house).

There’s a partially-roofed deck which would be great for a spa and even has an external door to the bathroom. It even has a large outside caged space that would make a great cat run.

It would need some work to be fully accessible, but not as much as most houses. And you can see the mountains from the balcony. It recently sold for 1.2 million, and I was at the auction telling people I wanted to rent it. That was over a month ago. No-one has contacted me about it, and I have only a teensy bit more money now than I did then (specifically, $25/fortnight, plus an unknown amount for the food pantry). I could arguably ‘rent’ a room to the food pantry, as the house is also a great set-up for both a food pantry and an escape room (I would use a single large room for both). There is a gated front courtyard which can’t be seen from the road (so it’s unlikely to attract drunk people smashing stuff) and three of the five bedrooms have doors that open directly to the courtyard, so the food pantry room could be accessed from outside while still having a locked door between it and the rest of the house. (The other two direct-access doors would be great for emergency evacuees, because they could have privacy from us—we would move into the family room during the emergency.)

It’s in a high fire risk area… but a swimming pool full of water might be VERY handy for exactly that reason.

I call it “The Shiny House”.

11. “Welcome to Australia” book

I forgot this particular hustle last time. It’s something that grew out of the Castle of Kindness Refugee Sponsorship Group, and I started work on it four years ago. It’s a picture book designed for refugee and immigrant kids to read with their parents, and has loads of information (from “Cockatoos are huge and loud but they won’t hurt you” to “‘Bring a plate’ is not about crockery”). I always wanted to make it bilingual in several languages, and our current refugee mentees have translated it into Dari Persian. So… I now owe them $700 which I don’t have (I am working on a short-term loan because failing to pay a refugee on time is supervillain level dodgy) BUT the book is very close to having a real, bilingual, completed version.

12. The ZamZam Foundation.

You may have noticed that the most recent blog entry here is about an Afghan-led charity called the ZamZam Foundation which is launching in Canberra next month. I’m currently the secretary. It’s been a wild ride and way too much for me to handle. About a month ago my imminent collapse was obvious enough that several more people came on board, so I THINK the worst is over. We’ll see. I really love the work but I need to find a co-secretary or something along those lines. I am working on it.

13. And…

Because of the ZamZam Foundation, I became aware of some government grants specifically designed to help Afghan refugees (and vulnerable migrants) settle into Australia. I got excited and started looking at houses (that’s how I first saw the Shiny House) before reading in more detail that the grants can’t be used for housing or land. Then I came up with these thirteen ideas:

a) English lessons (including a member of the current refugee family, and including me—which would be about $250/week for me and at least that much for her).

b) Driving lessons (including at least 2 members of the current refugee family).

c) Wages and computers for the president and secretary of the ZamZam Foundation (which would give me another $100 or so per week, plus $150 to pay a co-secretary, plus a non-dying computer).

d) Swimming lessons in a private backyard pool (which, if I lived at the Shiny House and got permission, would give me a backyard pool… and I also quoted for a waterslide and Indigenous art installation which would be AWESOME and ultimately a source of income so the free swimming lessons for refugees could continue to be free).

This is by the artist I’d most likely hire (who likes the idea):

e) West Belco Food Pantry—expanding the pantry, and hiring a refugee to do the shopping and unloading and cleaning. I’d continue to monitor the pantry, and charge maybe $20 or $50 a week for my services. If I was at the Shiny House, I’d charge $100/week for the use of the room.

f) Funding to make and print “Welcome to Australia” in its Persian bilingual form, including 500 free copies sent around Australia (to other refugee mentorship groups, the Red Cross, etc), and some cash for me.

g) Stress-related pain relief (since refugees have trouble coming to terms with mental illness, but definitely know they’re stressed and in pain)—a spa pool, and free massages. (And then I’d have a spa in my yard, plus $20-$50 for coordinating people’s visits.)

h) Cooking groups (made up of two recent arrivals and two not, to help integrate people into the wider community—and to help new arrivals show off their skills rather than having to be the recipient of aid all the time).

i) Monthly Open House dinners—I’d love to host that, especially if I was in a house with enough room (…like the Shiny House).

j) Monthly excursions—I love showing off Canberra, and would get paid about $200/month for that.

k) Art classes (originally by my mum, then one of her students would do it for money).

A friend just told me about another government grant thing due next month, with similar goals (except not restricted to Afghans, which is all the better for me) so I’ll apply for most/all of these in those grants too.

So, is my life about to change in a big way (for at least the next two years)? We’ll see.

If I won most/all of those grants, I’d have enough money to rent the Shiny House. So it’s possible.


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