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10/10/11

Passive Solar Prefab Is Inspected By Miz P.


At the prefab passive solar house, our beloved guest, New York's Fashion Industry Busy Bee also known as my Ex-Room mate P., reviewed what we had done over the course of the year since her last visit, documented here. Now the off grid prefab has solar power, a working wood cook stove, and lots more to make her more comfortable!


We took her riding and to The Appomattox Railroad Festival. Good times.



And we talked... A LOT... about lots of potential changes in store... but first we spoke about:

Plans for the passive prefab in the next year: Finishing the off grid solar heat, closing up the walls, and revising the original plans for the prefab passive solar home's landscape:

Landscape Architecture
We reviewed our original landscaping plans, envisioned two years ago by the very talented Topos, and how, with the reality of our more rough-and-tumble lifestyle, we are adjusting them to be more organic, to work with where we ended up placing the off grid systems and how we actually, in reality, use the home site.

We still plan on adding the pavers, as that soil is poor and pavers are a great way to bring clean modern lines to the outdoors WHILE helping to stomp mud off of boots and dirty paws!

But we've made some changes, for example: The beautiful, modern, sharp looking retention pool...

...is now a circular natural pool. (Or, will soon be a natural pool.)

The blueberry hedge will be further downhill so not to obstruct the view to the fields. (And we love what Topos did with the field irrigation, using gravity to irrigate the orchard!)
The planted berm was nixed for a less-sloping slope, because in reality we have no time nor desire to maintain anything but with a bush hogg, and to bush hogg at such a high grade is dangerous. Especially for Handsome Husband, from Hamburg.

The cistern is not to the west, connected with a baffle, it ended up being on the south side, so that we won't drive over it.  We still want a root cellar.

Systems Update: Handsome Husband finalized the Solar / Radiant Heat / DHW Systems Descriptions and Wiring Diagrams for Pat Root of Root Electric to begin the next phase in the prefab house kit completion.
Here are pictures of what he wrote.
(Don't worry - we will go much more into this in much more detail over the winter as the off grid electrical / plumbing is completed. In order to read the papers, just click on the photos to enlarge them full size:)


We also had long, long talks about Our Next Steps, which we're still debating.

Chasing Wild Dawg, With Teddy Bear.

How do you get closer to your off grid passive solar prefab homestead by stepping further away?
This is the question we have been wrestling with.

We have opportunities afield. Watching Richmond take hens from jobless families, waiting (waiting a lifetime?) for Richmond to catch up to the rest of the sustainable and livable world made the lucrative offers more attractive.  Richmond, I only returned to you from guilt; I did my time, volunteering in many organizations, keeping on The Sunny Side, but Richmond... I just can't see you take away SIMPLE things like hens any more.

I consider picking up my FOUR enviromentally friendly businesses, two family salaries in technology and green building, and gracing somewhere else that values jobs, philosophy, and families like ourselves.

Wild Dawg, Grabbing Teddy Bear.
At the off grid passive solar SIP house.

It would come with a steep, steep price: our beloved land, our happy slowly-building off grid homestead, our secure and warm community and prefab home would then be hours away.

So ironically the thing that kept us in a town like Richmond - where you can't even dance in bars, where there is no city skate park (looks like even little Appomattox will get a skate park before Richmond!), where they take away your hens (in these times!) - has been our deep love for our community in Pamplin and our happy prefab home at Higher Ground.

There is no embracing of the freedom to be sustainable nor creative in Richmond.
Even in teeny tiny towns like Appomattox, when teens began skateboarding down Main Street and shop owners became concerned for Little Ole Ladies' safety, instead of banning the teens, they began talks to create a skate park at the high school down the street. Instead of crushing one group in favor of another, they provide solutions.

And in places like Appomattox (and many other much larger cities now), no one blinks at meeting a goat or PIGLET happily sauntering down the street!



So, yes: Just in time to break my irritated glare towards my hometown, P. arrived from New Yawk Cit-tay to throw love and light and fun back into our life after a long work week! 
It occurred to me that VCU's Fashion Department might benefit from my NYC ex-roomie P's visit; I mean, she IS vp at Vera Wang -> J Mendel.

But why would we spend time in a place that takes hens from jobless families. No... we scooped her up from the train station and took her straight to the land. Last year, P love(D) my hens when she last visited... I thought about taking her to the Virginia Museum, for a stroll in the Fan, but... neither of us, with her last Facebook Profile Picture of her embracing our now-taken-away backyard hens fresh in our minds... Neither of us were inclined to do so, for now.
Richmond takes away people's hens.
More citizens than you might think are flying the coop.

I ask: Why in the world would a green business (much less four) that embraces tech and sustainability stay in a town that doesn't. That is the issue with which we wrest.

Yet I worry: What in the world would we do in A Big City with two rabid children, two big muddy-pawed country dogs and a feral cat?

I sit and think about all the gardening I would have to transplant...
And it really makes one admire the lengths to which so many people in New York, L.A., and other larger cities embrace sustainability in less ideal circumstances - container gardens outside of windows, urban hens on top of roofs...!

Here's the latest example, in this week's New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/opinion/sunday/i-went-back-to-the-land-to-feed-my-family.html?_r=2&ref=opinion

BUT: 
If we left Richmond, we'd be our age, DEBT FREE. That's enticing.
We could live on the land, but Handsome Husband would have to commute. I understand many families do it; heck some families don't get to see their moms and dads for years while they "make it" abroad and send money home. But that might not be the healthiest solution for us... although the impact would be lessened with the technology tools we have today, like Skype...

We're just weighing options... *opportunities*... there's no longer any reason for us not to.

In the meantime, at Higher Ground we continue planting rye, blueberry, sage, lavendar... preparing for our longterm future.

Recipes
Returning to Richmond, I had a half hour-ish to make some food for P. to take on the train back to New York.
I made:
Indian Catch The Train Rice.
  • Start frantically boiling about 3 cups of water. Once it boils add rice!
  • Sautee below in a pan, in a BIG OLE GENEROUS pat o' butter, because who has time for ghee:
    • GRAB and mince garlic, ginger (the garlic and plenty of ginger are really important, fyi), thinly sliced onion, throw in some minced chile peppers and diced green peppers. 
    • Add a can of precooked soft tasting beans, like cannelloni.
    • Sprinkle liberally with chile powder. Feel free to add other spices like tumeric, coriander, mustard seed if you have them on hand but not too much. Add salt to taste.
    • Add some diced tomatoes.
  • Once the rice is cooked (do NOT overcook, it should have a bite!), drain & toss it in to the pan with the vegetables and stir it all up.
  • Add fresh chopped cilantro if you have it on hand but who has fresh cilantro on hand when you're running to catch a train?

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2 Comments:

At 10/11/11, 9:41 AM , Anonymous Margaret Broucek said...

Hi Copeland,
When I was in one of my moments of being at a crossroads and needing to choose a route, a friend reminded me that whichever one I chose, I would make it work for me.
Happy trails,
Margaret

 
At 10/12/11, 1:08 PM , Blogger Copeland said...

Hi Margaret,
*Thanks* for that! You are so right, and we are excited about all possibilities, just disappointed that my hometown helped to force this (good) Adventure.

Thanks for listening, I will Keep On The Sunny Side! : )
And this is the perfect time / age for our children to have a Big Adventure.

Gratefully,
Copeland

 

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