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10/1/10

Who Are We Kidding. It's A Prefab Party House! Big Ugly! Come Baaaaaack!


If you recall, I left the off grid green prefab Sunday having just finished seeding the field as it started to rain.
Well, it has rained every day since then. So we have nothing new to report on the mounting of solar heat for the zero energy passive solar prefab house kit.

This weekend? I'm gone.

 

Are you gonna miss me?

Oh, don't you worry. Guess who I brought on to keep you company?
Remember my Nekkid Friend Big Ugly Lauralyn?

She wrote down her forthright thoughts after visiting us in the off grid zero energy prefab house kit, and here they are, with her photographs.
Well, not her nekkid pictures, but her house kit photos...
Aw, come on, don't be so disappointed, this is a CONSTRUCTION blog, not Sex In The City!

BIG UGLY NEKKID LAURALYN VISITS THE OFF GRID PREFAB HOUSE KIT!

Big Ugly and
A Strange Figure In The Background

"Recently, I had the honor and the pleasure of joining Copeland and her family at their beloved zero energy prefab house kit - in idyllic Charlotte County, Va... I am so grateful that I didn't make the grave mistake of waiting any longer than I already had - to finally go and see for myself, how the project is coming along.

Up until the time of my visit, I had followed the construction progress via Copeland’s regular updates on her blog…and although her recaps of each subsequent trip to “The Land” (as the family refers to their property) have kept me informed, I am admittedly more of a ‘hands-on” learner. And so, until I was literally there on site, pointing at things and asking questions as they arose - I was (for the most part) fundamentally ignorant about applied off-the-grid living.

Over the course of the last couple of days leading up to my mini-retreat, the recent installation of the composting toilet fairly well dominated all dialog between Copeland and me. I was overjoyed to learn that the “pee pail” was now obsolete (hooray!) and I felt justified in greedily calling first dibs on christening the new potty since I was to be the guest, after all. But in my haste, had I not erroneously signed up to be a guinea pig of sorts? I mean like seriously …what if I did it wrong and there was I dunno – a malfunction, or…an accident or - perish the thought I should break the revered composting toilet……or something…

Big Ugly Composting Toilet

Upon further consideration I decided to forfeit what I'd previously considered to be the privilege of a houseguest thinking, “Mmmaybe I’d better let someone more knowledgeable or brave test those waters (in a manner of speaking, of course).

Copeland, her kids and I traveled to “The Land” together - which was great, because not only did it afford my old chum and me - hours during which to enjoy long-overdue girl-talk, but it was also as if I had my own private tour guide interjecting interesting information about the region, and pointing out landmarks as we made our way there. The closer we got to our destination, the more rural and scenic the countryside became, and the more Copeland’s enthusiasm crescendo-ed. I relished seeing my dear friend so palpably smitten with the geography and community that ensconces her prized slice of heaven.

One particular highlight (especially for me) was our snap-decision detour onto a mostly abandoned Main Street on the edge of the town closest to “The Land”. As an amateur photographer I was drawn to the decay of the derelict buildings and I could not wait to come back and explore…I should also mention, that before I returned home, I had no more space left on the memory card that I specifically cleared for the trip. Never before have I filled my camera in such a short amount of time. And that was even after I’d deleted a bunch of the duds in order to make way for more good ones! Needless to say, the prefab, “The Land”, and the surrounding environs are photographically – beyond compelling and inspiring.


We arrived on “The Land” just before sunset, so there was some urgency to bring our things inside and get the house illuminated before dark. You know? I’d just completely overlooked the fact that the solar-powered electrical system was still a few weeks away from completion. I’m conditioned to enter a house, flip a switch, and have light. But here’s the thing - not being able to do so, didn’t matter a bit - because by now all this stuff is second nature to Copeland, she has a system and it’s terribly efficient. Before I’d even finished fetching our bags from the car, she had the place aglow in candlelight, her kids were eating dinner and she was nearly done making the beds…amazing…


I was delighted that I hadn’t missed the opportunity to stay (at least once) in the candle-lit house before the power was hooked up. It was not only ambient and relaxing but it also helped to instill a much greater appreciation for what Copeland and her family have dealt with over these many months, in order to stay in the prefab for the sake of enjoyment as well as to keep tabs on construction. Not the least of which - the absence of utilities that I personally take for granted, e.g. heat, running water and on-demand lighting.


Over the weekend, as Copeland answered my many (sometimes absurd?) questions, and as I followed her around in the midst of her routine, I realized a couple of things:

1.) When the prefab is completed, and the Casatis are enjoying its cozy yet modern aesthetic and gloriously efficient and green functionality, I dare say that after staying there time and time again over all four seasons - washing outside under the solar shower, reading by candlelight, bundling up for warmth, storing food in a cooler, cooking on a camp stove and using a pee pail for well…you know...staying in the house with a solar-powered electrically run – pump for the collected rainwater and lighting and heat and refrigerated food and of course – the composting toilet…will feel downright decadent…

but…

2.) After hearing about their plans to cook meals on an antique wood-burning cook stove, and wash laundry with an OLD school wringer-washer and hang it out to dry on a line, and take baths in a livestock trough and so forth - my admiration for the Casatis’ commitment to living as green as physically possible, increased exponentially…but I also now realize that I myself, as a dreaded consumer, would find what they will consider a comparatively easy lifestyle - to be difficult to pull off day to day. I live my own life in such a reprehensible hurry, for instance - I have four kids and need the option of doing many loads of laundry and fast.

Suffice it to say, it was just the most wonderful thing to have no choice but slow down and live simply, and conscientiously – even if for only one (pre)fab-ulous weekend…with Copeland and her family on “The Land”…

Footnote: The composting toilet was the absolute shiznit - and it wasn’t even scary, at all! Ok, so it was kinda big and imposing (my feet didn’t quite reach the ground) and it did feel sorta wrong to exit without flushing, and pour in coffee grounds and sawdust when done…but most importantly - it worked! And with no drawbacks at all that I could see (smell?)…Honestly? Since being back home, I’ve felt guilty every time I’ve thrown my coffee grounds away… "

Copeland's Note:
Can't wait until Big Ugly Lauralyn comes back again, next time hopefully with her children!

I realize most of our prefab house kit clients will have zero desire to strip away the energy use as much as I do. For myself, coming from a family farm where there was an outdoor well pump before in-house water, I remember lesser but efficient systems and re-embrace it.

A lot of it makes sense - like our non-electric coffee grinder. Why add electric? Add coffee, turn the handle! Some of the later inventions, especially in appliances, are just pure lazy.  Thrift stores are full of those 70s "time savers," usually touting, As Seen On TV. Really? Do I really need a plastic egg peeler? Or do I just frickin peel the egg?!?

With our professional overworked backgrounds in technology, for ourselves the choices we make for our own zero energy house kit are about Doing Lots More With Less, and approaching life as One Big Science Experiment while relearning how to relax.  This is where we want to spend the rest of our lives, doing more with less, and not needing or depending on energy wasting, oft-breaking tools to do so.

And who are we kidding? This structure t'ain't austere: It's A PREFAB PARTY HOUSE!!!
Lauralyn! Come baaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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