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1/17/11

We're Gonna Get Right Back To Where We Started From

There were some gorgeous, dramatic skies over the off grid, zero energy, passive solar prefab house this weekend...

Soooo... now we have... solar power, hence light, connected within our passive solar prefab house's south room. (The north half is not connected yet as the walls are not closed up due to our still trying to track down the plumber!)


Our electrician Pat Root (again) had (another) great idea to pick up some LED Christmas lights on clearance and string them back into the north side of the prefab home from the south.
Brilliant.
Happy.
It's Christmas. All over again. : )



You should have seen the children, giddy and happily squeaking, hands full with strings of LEDs, while Handsome Husband obligingly hung them according to their whims as darkness fell last night.

The Prefab House lit up.  It was joyous.

But rewind: Earlier in the day, we headed into Appomattox where I found two gems: The first, a collapsible laundry drying rack, HUGE, bigger than my mom's, for much less than what she paid. (I love thrifting...) It will be so useful for winter laundry and drying egg noodles! (More on that soon!)


What a GEM! Watch out, New York ICFF friends and family. I think I've found the most awesome gift from Virginia to give you when I head north for ICFF... the recipes are A-MAZING. If you like, you may get your own copy of Old Timey Receipts from Appomattox here.

Always zero energy, it's still strange to now have solar power at our fingertips in our off grid prefab home. I'm cracking up watching the energy expenditure of our household - due to the passive solar prefab's great daylighting, and the reused antique wood cook stove for heat, I'm seeing .01- .0something as our wattage expenditure whenever I look at the inverter... the battery bank is always at "100% charged"... 

The prefab house kit has now stood up against its prior energy efficient statistics, even after this fall's penetrations: As you may know, we've been enduring crazy frigid weather in Virginia. I looked at our temperature gauge: the high in the prefab house kit last week  was 72, the low, 41.

I don't like that 41 reading AT ALL. But let's evaluate: The lows outside were a pretty steady 15 each night- the prefab is using its "standard" package SIP, not the thicker SIP walls, we now have several penetrations, and heck, it was freezing - these readings were recorded while we were gone (although I assume the 72 was when we were there with the cook stove?) for the most part, during a cold, overcast winter environment with nothing but passive solar? That's pretty good.

Oh, by the way-  if anyone's seen Mike The Plumber, let us know, 'K?   [I think we found a new plumber.] There is a season...


We may have no radiant heat yet, we may have no winter toilet (which stopped composting once it got cold, but I have high hopes for it once the radiant heat is working), we may be in a construction zone...

But that won't stop us from having some neighbors and old friends over for a soup party!
We ran over to some neighbors and friends we hadn't seen in months, and invited them over for a big ole bunch of nothing: A pot of soup, some home baked bread, appetizers (detailed in last week's post), wine, beer, and we were down to about TWO CUPS of potable water so I was really hoping they chose alcohol by the time they arrived. We were also missing butter, which we forgot, so let's just hope it was a REALLY good soup and REALLY good bread.

It was an Early. Noon. Sunday. Supper.
"Dear Lord, we gather, and hope our guests like PBR and wine, because we have no water to offer them, but plenty of food..." The soup turned out great.

Copeland's Collard Soup
Jefferson Cups are a wise addition when you have concrete floors...
  • Sautée well plenty of minced garlic, onion, and turnips (cubed in small bits) in good olive oil   
  • Rinse & wash & pick out stones from lentils + black eyed peas, then add to soup mix (you want beans at ½ to ½ with veggies) 
  • Sautée a bit then add hand-crushed canned tomatoes in bits + the juice and a can of tomato purée + (kosher) salt + water, stirring (I like the granular but not too big texture of kosher salt, try it vs. the bland tiny grains) until you get a nice soup texture vs. stew  
  • Add sliced 2" long rectangle of collards and simmer until fresh but soft, so that the taste is soft vs. harsh 
  • When you reheat you might consider adding more water / broth, also consider sautéeing a ham bone in the reheating pot, adding a bit of water / broth before adding the more solid already-made-ahead soup, honeychile, to simmer on the cook stove.
The soup party was special. Friendships deepened, new friends were made. I kind of want to talk about it, because of my interest in history, but... don't want to talk about it.  But it's Martin Luther King Day, so I will.

As usual, we had invited our neighbors The S's, and an hour into the Soup Party, as usual, they hadn't shown. Suddenly, here they come! Mr. S entered, with a woman I had never met (our direct across-the-land neighboring farm), and announced, as emissaries for their families, they were there to acknowledge our invitation, thank us for it, and go

I said, incredulous, “Well, can’t you at least have some SOUP?” 
“No.” “May I get you some WATER? A BEER?”
Yeah, you know me, I had them sitting down and eating soup before they knew what hit 'em. : )

ANYWAY, Mrs. C, who accompanied Mr. S, has four children around our children’s age, and enjoyed hearing about Sister and HER four boys... we were all getting to know each other, when she spied my old college trunk which I now use to store my kitchen things in until we build cabinets:
“Why do you have ‘Copeland’ on your trunk, do you mind my asking?”
“Well, that’s my name, I’m named after my family in Edenton, North Carolina…”
She responded, “MY family is from North Carolina and are Copelands…!”
I said, “Well, I hear there’s some Cherokee there?”
She: “*MY* family has Cherokee, there!”
We just kind of stared at each other and grinned in disbelief, trying not to tear up… 
HOW FATE MIGHT LAUGH to seat two strangers together, in a tiny town, at a rural dinner table, who just might be far-flung cousins?!?


Sometimes you have to reach out, and remember how to get right back to where we started from...


"...Ooo and it's alright and it's comin' 'long
We got to get right back to where we started from
Love is good, love can be strong
We got to get right back to where we started from..."



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2 Comments:

At 1/29/11, 9:14 AM , Blogger Mary Q Contrarie said...

I am looking for a new laundry drying rack. The one I linked is the one I am considering. Seems to have lots of potential. The video makes it look great.

 
At 1/29/11, 1:30 PM , Blogger Copeland said...

Mary - ours is a standing foldable one, I will take some pictures for you soon, it is so muddy in Virginia right now that I know I will be certainly washing clothes! Like you said in your own blog, a drying rack rocks in the winter vs. a clothesline.

 

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