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12/4/11

DC Adventures, Resources, And Livestock At The Passive Solar Prefab House!

Thumbs up!
For D.C. And Gypsy Adventures! (And the U.S.G.B.C., ha!)

I was confiding with a close friend (who argued before the Supreme Court of Virginia last week, by the way, not that I'm not totally impressed and proud of Mrs. L or anything!) about the transitions we undergo as we begin The Very Interesting Year, and how, just as the old adage states, we have a choice to either look at things as difficult, or as amazing, exciting opportunities and adventure.

Handsome Husband can either see it as,
"I take the train up and back 4+ hours a day to my job, it's horrible!"
or
"I sleep on the way up, then step, refreshed, into the excitement of D.C.! On the way home, I work, so get everything done by the time I get home so I can hang out with my wife! If the train is delayed, I get to have some "me" time which I never get to do at home, and send emails to friends and watch shoot-em-up flicks that my wife hates to see! And I get to work with amazing people on projects I love!"

Mrs. L brilliantly observed:
"It's all in how you look at it: That's the difference between a rut, and a groove!" 
And we are in. the. GROOVE! Embrace the RHYTHM!!!!



'Cause, you know: Groove is in the heart, baby.


Embracing opportunity is not new: I lived in the East Village in the '90s when you could either choose to be down & out and depressed by your impoverished existence, or you could exclaim, "Oh my gosh I'm living in NEW! YAWK! CIT-TAY!!!!" and GROOVE YER HEART OUT in yer platform Converse sneakers and silver hot pants, honeychile. (And all those friends grooving their hearts out back then have continued to succeed professionally and still colorfully embrace life.)

As I type, I'm on a train! With my honey! And no kids! To DC! To start a new chapter of our gypsy life! 
(Note to self: purchase brightly painted caravan off Craigslist. Practical for farm AND urban trekking.)

My Georgetown friend R. notes, "Union Station is BEAUTIFUL right now. Magical really. Such a perfect place to arrive as a gypsy."

I'm steppin' off this train like Ice Cube into Eames.

So we stepped off the train, into our Nation's Capital. 
Obligatory snapshots follow.

Over the weekend we walked, and walked, considering areas where one might rent.
The neighborhoods that attracted us are not the ones you might assume.

Some areas of Columbia Heights, along Adams Morgan, around Dupont... not Georgetown, not Foggy Bottom... We want vibrancy, hustle & bustle, tiny entrepreneurial shops, and everyone all jumbled together- entertaining eye candy as we just sit back and watch it all happen; we do not want staid, quiet, leafy streets. We  want to sit in the window, watching, or walk the street and just view people all together creating, for we observers, a beautiful bright brilliant canvas of life.

We were very interested in areas where you could literally see historical blight and danger, now undergoing revitalization: Over and over we saw rowhouses with drafty windows protected with old, rusty bars facing newly-gutted rowhouses with double and triple-glazed energy efficient window panes... projects that you just *know* are gonna be LEED certified six months later...


...DC on the weekend is interesting.
The suits are hung in the closet, and now residents finish their jogs with a walk, picking up papers and groceries, sipping on their lattes...  restaurants embrace The Brunch, and crowds of singles gather for all you can eat + drinks...

Although there were plenty of strollers and toddlers, we did not see any older children.

Unlike in New York, where in almost every neighborhood you can find on any weekend morning strollers and children of *all* ages scrambling over playground equipment while parents blearily socialize, the DC playgrounds we passed were empty.

Are the schools really that bad that all the families, once school age, flee? I guess they are.

Homeschooling removes that obstacle. But I still think, "Where the heck are all the children? Not the tourist children, but the children that live here?" Again, this gypsy life will allow our offspring to have lots of friends & playtime in Pamplin & Richmond... finding DC children will be interesting.

DC friends noted: "No, it's not that there are no DC kids that age, it's just that they reside in the neighborhoods in which you don't want to live and didn't visit." In other words, in the neighborhoods we don't want to live, you're either too poor and go to public school, or wealthy enough on your shaded quiet *yaaaawn* block to send your children to private school. Huh. So.. no Middle O' The Road school-age kids. Noted.


Maybe DC kids just play a lot of video games. It actually doesn't matter, because I won't be sipping lattes on *any* playground, idle: my kids will be out with me, walking. Walking walking walking walking and if I hear any whining I'll leave you on this street corner, y'hear? Keep up, chiles, Momma's on a roll!

We had a great DC trip. The company for whom Handsome Husband now works is filled with kind, super smart and talented, driven people. At the holiday party I was deeply impressed by the technology brainpower that filled the room. Just as impressed, I noted the gender, cultural, and international diversity of successful employees that were recognized with deep thanks and appreciation by the founders.

Handsome Husband is so thrilled to be a part of this brainy environment.

Return To The Land
With our adventure going so well in the nation's capital, let's discuss our resources. Aside from natural beauty, Virginia’s natural assets contribute $21.8 billion to the state’s economy, according to a recent environmental report. So let's not muck it up, 'K? That's good business sense.

Per our car conversation last week about how Germany and the United States are reacting differently to spending, this article reminds us how intertwined we are with the global economy: Tremors from a euro collapse would be global, with U.S. recession likely. Not that we think the union is going to all-out collapse; but certainly we note that the sooner one can free themselves from any mortgage debt, the more viable our futures can be.

So, with the plan to Step High Into The City While Embracing The Land, the sooner we sell the Richmond house, the happier we will be. But we have a ways to go before spring... And the reality is that spring is the season of Realtors.
We still have to get through winter.

It may be winter, but I am already thinking about seeding and harvest.
My attitude is quite different from many gardeners: In fact, I do little to eliminate pests. The guard chickens ate the beetles, I picked off what I found, and that was about it. And I learned that one worm in every peach pit was no big deal when compared to spraying with pesticides. Now I don't take it to this extreme, but here is a great article on The Case For Doing Nothing About Pests.

I remember the days last summer when I would sit in my urban garden, typing at my laptop WHILE wielding a bb gun at my side, chronicling the fat, thieving squirrel who had free reign of my fruit now that my urban guard chickens were taken away...
[Don't. Get. Me. Started. On The Urban Chicken Subject. Ok, deep breath, I'll refrain.]

So, thinking seeds and gardening, I am also thinking livestock.
With an off grid, water-rationed-because-we-have-one-1,800-gallon-cistern homestead.
Livestock drink a LOT of water... I'm considering its impact on our water resources...
and how to protect streams and water quality...

However, properly done, it doesn't have to negatively impact the environment:
From Eat Wild:
"When properly managed, raising animals on pasture instead of factory farms is a net benefit to the environment. To begin with, a diet of grazed grass requires much less fossil fuel than a feedlot diet of dried corn and soy. On pasture, grazing animals do their own fertilizing and harvesting. The ground is covered with greens all year round, so it does an excellent job of harvesting solar energy and holding on to top soil and moisture. As you will read in the bulletins below, grazed pasture removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere more effectively than any land use, including forestland and ungrazed prairie, helping to slow global warming."
So, talking about symbiosis and sustainability: Don't you feel it's time?
  
I was fascinated when I heard a group of youngsters are suing the USA federal government, demanding a national climate recovery plan, NOW. 
Think of it as a good financial investment, like a college savings plan, plus.  
Many young farmers already realize how much their business is affected by climate change... and more are starting to realize they need to do something to address it.

I end this post with this video from OurChildrensTrust.org.


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