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4/24/11

Prefab Home's Rainwater Filtration And Installation Update, On Earth Day.


Oi yoi, yoi: On another dreary, drizzling, gray morning. Handsome Husband drove out to the prefab zero energy home alone, then returned in time to see the sun break out from behind the clouds this afternoon. I'll let him fill you in on the off grid prefab house kit progress:




"With the water filtration system having arrived on site and the 1700 gallon cistern on its way I drove out to meet Justin Layne with Layne Excavation with our contractor Jason Dorris to discuss the project plan from an excavation perspective.

My initial thought was that Justin would bury the cistern and return at a later date to back fill after we connected the cistern to Rainwater Management Solutions's WISY water filtration system and the water supply line into the house, insulated the slab and trenched for the gray and black water as well as the power supply to the pump to finally install the drain tile.

It turns out that Justin's company also acts as general contractor and can perform some of the steps above. This will reduce their presence to a single visit to cut down on cost and increase out pace of progress on the home stretch of the project.

Justin and Jason will work side-by-side to bury the cistern, install the rain water filtration by WISY, connect the filter to the cistern and the cistern pump to the water supply on the south side.

We will finish wrapping the foundation in rubber membrane and install the rigid foam with flashing. At that point the four northern downspouts will be connected to the drain tile, which will also accept the discharge from the rain water filter.

The drain tile will continue with solid 4" pipe to the field downhill / natural pool per the landscape design by TOPOS. The pool will have the shape of a pond with a gradual decline sealed with membrane and will overflow into the grey water drainage pipe which will continue to the orchard.

Justin also recommended catching the significant drainage from the field above the house by terminating the berm in the East into a 10' by 10' drain pit about 3' deep. This pit will overflow into the natural pool as well."

Septic field / Landscape Architecture Related Posts:
Heeeeeey. The sun came out!
All I've heard this afternoon since the sun broke through are gas-powered lawn mowers and edgers for hours and hours... yet all people think about when we propose urban chickens in Richmond is,
"Aren't chickens loud?"
My friend Scott of Full Scale Architecture quipped,
"Funny, I still get odd looks when I use our reel mower. The looks say: 'You, stupid, me not'"
To which I replied, "At least you get funny looks, honeychile we get flat-out shunned."

In honor of my neighborhood's incessant gas-powered mowing on Earth Day, I post a poem.
I call this, "Pretty Condensension"
In my front yard, the coop rests, placed perfectly under the magnolia
its red barn charm contrasts nicely with spring lawn, leaves and residences as if ready for its close up, for Martha to appear waving photographers into place...
Instead, alone, indignant, this coop now glowers, sneering, facing proudly the neighbors’ ignorance.


The Real Story:

A few members of Chickunz, a group that wants to legalize urban chickens in Richmond, had asked to use our coop because it is so pretty for their display at Richmond's Earth Day festivities. Of course I said yes. When they came to pick it up last night we couldn’t fit it into their car, so we just put it down, and haven’t yet returned the coop to the back yard. Morning arrived: a drizzly day with bright spring green everywhere, and this coop just pops in contrast in the front yard… I might leave it there awhile. It makes me so sad to see it without its hens, hens taken from our family by middle class-sadly-striving-to-look-uppity neighbors who recoil from color and culture.

Meanwhile, Handsome Husband is now walking around the patio with his tea kettle gingerly boiling away stray weeds. Yet WE'RE weird. #Pesticides #ItsAChemLawnTown #IgnorantRubes

Another Richmond friend, Amy C-R, had it even worse:
"Dear neighbor: If you need to wear a respirator while spraying your lawn, then it's not cool to do it with my kids, dog, and food garden down wind. Nice way to celebrate earth day, jerk." #CultureWars

Oh, chickunz. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.
Yes, I've been brokenhearted Blue since the day we parted Why, why did I ever let you go? Mamma mia, now I really know, My my, I could never let you go.
 

My thoughts darken, surveying suburban ignorance. I try to push them out for clarity. As in: a clear, clean natural pool. However, I caution: Affordability will be a major factor in whether we go from the Redneck Rainwater Pool to a full on Natural Pool, especially when Holliday Lake is so close...
Here's some more links on natural pools:
Where to now go? I sank. I grabbed wine and Harry Potter's Half Blood Prince and Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows and succumbed to the dark, dark reality of ignorance, hate, lack of community and evil through movies and current BBC news.

That's why we needed today.


Walking into St. James for Easter service, I could not help contrast my recent darkness and drifting with the joy and light and community that faced me within, then again with our many friends throughout the day as we drifted, happily, down Monument Avenue... Many thanks to The H's... who took us in hand and led us to wander outside in the light, the V-O's who, stopping by after the Easter Parade and the H's, well, M. V-O makes me laugh and laugh...

There was joy all around, so much love and laughter... 
And look at all that color and quirky fun on Monument Avenue. Our neighbors would never allow it if they could, ha. #FrickinRubes
But this conversation will not turn to insipid ignorance, instead: Celebrate the color and zest that make Richmond "A Destination" for its Easter Parade and spending time with our dear friends so great, today!

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4/22/11

Deltaville, Devastation, And Let's Dedicate An Elvis Song To Richmond


I still can NOT believe that just two days prior, a tornado ripped through our beloved Deltaville. Relief efforts are still ongoing. Thankfully no one died, but many houses, churches, and the community center were demolished or seriously damaged. Gloucester did not fare well either.

Hearing friend's tales of the tornado sliding right towards them, then suddenly skipping over their house to  demolish the neighboring home, seeing the pines snapped in swaths... it is chilling, surreal, yet known in Virginia, it just usually doesn't get reported when it hits rural areas unless there's damage. And unfortunately, there was damage this time.


Just two days later I traced the tornado's path under sunny, breezy spring skies, along lifelong familiar landmarks while entertaining far-flung European guests... it was eerie... heart wrenching... seeing the Federal Disaster Relief trucks juxtaposed with the 1800s farm houses...
I'm still processing this, but in the meantime we can write checks.

If you'd like to help, please make checks out to:
Deltaville Community Association
17147 General Puller Highway
P.O. Box 211
Deltaville, VA 23043

If you'd like to donate to the families who lost their homes call 804-776-9295 for more information on how you can help. Mason Realty offered to open their office and phones as a central help line. You can also buy "I love Deltaville" tee shirts, where 100% of the proceeds benefit rebuilding the community association.



In the sadness, there was also the innocent joy of European and New York children exploring on the beach, going for boat rides, little cousins squealing and squeaking in their play that would not have seen each other otherwise but for their annual Deltaville meetup- the New York cousins came down to play with their Virginia pipsqueak counterparts, and, as my New York cousin is a chef, well... we ate well, especially appreciating the foraged morels...

Still thinking on community, I returned to Richmond specifically to hear Richmond's departing Director of Community Planning / Über Urban Planner Rachel Flynn speak to Green Drinks. Rachel Flynn's speech didn't hearten me so much as confirmed my thoughts, although her parting advice for urban planning was valuable. Here's what Scott Kyle, LEED AP of Full Scale Architecture and I could remember:
  1. Transit: Transportation - Multi-modal transportation where the bus has a dedicated lane, bikes, multiple ways to access transit
  2. I loved her history of Richmond transit, incorporating the trolley system - "People will walk to travel 1/2 - 1/4 of a mile to transit"
  3. Get rid of one way streets, and Go On A Road Diet : Why all the eight lane highways as "Entrances To The City"? They end up widening roads when the perception of a Richmond Entrance changes routinely. I also think about those crazy suburban Short Pump and Midlothian six lane highways that are supposedly Residential Roads- who would ever want to live there, much less visit. #AnywhereUSA
  4. Suburbanization:
    "This used to be a progressive city. What happened?" -Chris Maxwell
    Rachel Flynn: "Suburbanization happened."
  5. River: Development yet protection of the park system of the river front - not developing on the riverfront, but near it, creating greater access.
  6. Neighborhoods: Mixed income as a way to bring people out of the projects : "They don't want to live in the projects to begin with" - neighborhoods incorporating mixed income and opportunity, which fosters growth of small businesses.
  7. 95 Profile: Lost opportunity to project our city onto travel- why you visit from what you see on 95? Give travelers a reason to stop in.
And, I would add: The freedom to be sustainably vibrant. #GiveMeMahChickunzYouRubes
I think... I think... I'm losing faith in you, Richmond... These days, I'm suspicious.



Meanwhile, it's another rainy weekend (shockers!), Handsome Husband drives out then alone to deliver more rain barrels from aforementioned Rain Barrel Scheme... and I collapse after a Spring Break filled with guests, Businesses For Chickens, Green Drinks, and more.

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4/20/11

Rainwater Collection And Filtration Systems Arrived, and... CHICKUNZ.

The rainwater collection and filtration systems have arrived safely to the off grid prefab home site!
We'd better git excavating ayyy-sap. Good thang we're meeting with the excavator Saturday!

Meanwhile, we race from Jamestown to Tuckahoe Plantation to the Chesapeake Bay entertaining visitors.




But back to Chickunz.
I find it so interesting that none of our local zoning / board of supervisors / city council find the right to urban chicken issue compelling enough to discuss (much less respond to our requests for dialogue), yet a visiting European Judge and Pharmaceutical Lawyer specifically requested to attend our Businesses For Chickunz Breakfast. They are fascinated by the issue: "Ve Vould Never Dee-ny A Basic Food Right, Are Not You Ze Land Of Ze Free?"

It actually made me rather embarrassed. We extended invitations to Richmond city council, the Mayor, and Henrico Board of Supervisors, followed up with phone calls. Many Richmond job-creators will be in attendance, and now... a European Judge fascinated by the legal issues. (Of course I said they could attend, I didn't want to look... PROVINCIAL...)

Yes folks, this means: Back to Bureaucracy.
I know, I know, yer over hearing about mah urban chickens.

Well cry me a river, zoning. I'll linger on this subject awhile.


Anyhoo, this whole Right To Chickunz has me thinking. And it reminds me of James Q. Wilson's Bureaucracy... Well, honeychiles, I have a message, and I'm sending it to Garcia.

Give Garcia this message: Despite James Q. Wilson: To allllll the bureaucratic representatives:
We send a missive:


And tell 'em Chickunz sent it.
Get with the music, folks. First businesses stand up, next up? Schools.

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4/16/11

Rain. Rain Barrels. Rain Barrels... Hmmm. Best Harebrained Idea EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


It's raining. Raining raining raining raining raining. Yes, folks, it's another weekend where Handsome Husband trudges out to the zero energy prefab house kit to deliver more off grid systems parts for our contractor and plumber and we stay behind. But hey, I know better than to complain about rain...



Earlier this week Pokey Lafarge blew through town so we grabbed the childrenz and ran.
Yes, I drag my children to bars. That's where real music is, not the tin lip-synched stuff you hear on the radio. They may not know who That Bieber Guy is, but they know Pokey Lafarge And The South City Three.

The crowd was SO appreciative. People were clapping and cheering and stomping as they played... here's a quieter shot I took, have a lissen!

Pokey Lafarge And The South City Three Play Richmond!!!!

And thinking about the approaching rain...
I came up with the BEST HAREBRAINED IDEA EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!


Eventually we will fix the breached pond in the woods.

BUT: Consider in the meantime: Getting food grade containers, turning them into 4-5 rain barrels, building a curved berm where the lower, smaller field is, placing the rain barrels on top, a pool below, and VOILA! A Home Grown Redneck Rain Pool for when the childrenz complain about the heat this summer!

Now to make a mini Natural Pool... whose overflow would help irrigate that small field downhill, and the rainbarrels would help fill up the pool when necessary.  Voila! Again!
(Click here to see some *really* beautiful natural pools!)

Oh, even bigger voila: (I'm feeling very smugly french now, y'all.)
I just found a supplier who has over A HUNDRED 66 gallon food grade drums for sale for $12 apiece! Heck, let's get a BUNCH! They stored olives so we'll have the added bonus of skin moisturizer and enhanced slip-n-slides!!! We can even add 'em to the north side of our shed to easily irrigate the apple trees! I'm brilliant! I'm crafty! Heck, you want me on yer side in war!

Speaking of rain water collection, everything except the cistern is due to arrive Monday, so we will start the excavating for that, as well as finally finish up the prefab house kit's site work.  Yes, the off grid prefab house will have running water soon... Can't wait.

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4/11/11

Prefab House: A Zero Energy Construction Update, With Battles.

This weekend's prefab modern house kit adventures included making and experimenting with SIP stew, inspecting the plumbing progress, monitoring solar energy consumption, meeting with our contractor... and, oh, aaaaand watching a battle.




Appomattox Clover Hill Historical Village 3


The middle storage area in the prefab house kit that was plain ole kitchen space / some systems in the original floorplan which now *also* houses much of our off grid systems like solar heating tanks, plumbing for radiant heat, circulation to the solar hot water collectors, rainwater purification systems (that most people would never need to budget space for) gets more tight by the minute as I also dream my housewife dreams of shelves, appliances... with an airy open feel.

(Ha... oh, don't look at me like that, YOU'LL SEE...)


Handsome Husband thought about how to move the moving pieces to the outside, so they're accessible- and now they're accessible from the hallway. It's brilliant. It's like a boat. Again, I know we keep saying this but:
We approach this house as a boat: Smart on space.
A boat, a boat, a boat. The utilization of every inch of space. 


It works amazingly well.


It is now Saturday night, I am cozy, warm, happy, and listening to the wonderful sound of a steady, beating rain on my roof top, filling my rain barrel (and soon to have a 1,700 gallon cistern to fill), quenching the fields, and I'm reminiscing when our children were 1 1/2 and 2ish and a drizzly dusk like this would make us hurriedly grab the toddlers, snap them into their car seats, load up the suitcases as dusk quickly ebbed to black darkness in the field-turning-to-mud from the 1960s teardrop Scotty, hauling the dogs, soaking, dirt-filled fur and paws, into the car to head carefully, miserably, navigating rain and dark and deer, back to the bright sterile lights of Richmond.

Myyyyyy times have changed.
Our youngest doesn't even remember ever sleeping in the camper. Much less awakening to nighttime downpours and evacuation. Their reality is this energy efficient prefab house kit, this solace: this dry, warm, wonderful off grid powerhouse of function, without reliance on anything but energy efficiency, passive solar design, solar power, and renewable resources.

Last week a strong storm blew through, toppling trees, hailing, blowing furiously, leaving tornado touch marks throughout the state. The fastening on our rooftop solar panels remains rigid. Yet fortuitous happenstance: A great hickory across the road slowly toppled and fell, onto our side, and we, with our neighbors The S's, cut and stored it- this one tree could last our two families a long while. Hickory is a very valuable wood for burning in cook stoves, yet you would never just "cut down a hickory."

And, because we will have the radiant heat in the slab working, we will not need a cord of wood, but only to supplement, cooking in winter and giving the passive solar design and radiant heat a boost in the most dire months.

Who needs the Electric Company trucks to haul dead wood away? For our families, we just hit the jackpot.


Earlier, as usual, we started off towards Mrs. Esh's for jam and bread.
At our last visit Mrs. Esh was giving away irises, so this week I brought her citronella from my Richmond garden, telling her it has the properties of lemon balm in habit but the attractiveness of ferns for arrangements with, of course, the mosquito repellent. Today she sent me away with narcissus. Hmmm, what to give her next? That's what we plant lovers adore: Plants With Stories. I can look around at nearly any plant or shrub in my garden and it has a story of love and friendship.


It makes me think about imprints of stories like when I go up to New York for ICFF- I will never stay in a hotel. Hotels are for outsiders.

P., at a stoop sale, when we were "supposed"
to be walking from her Chelsea house to ICFF.
I think we made 3 trips back with finds before
we actually made it to ICFF.

Instead, I make my beloveds miserable by inserting myself into their lives, dragging them around, prodding them to go here and there, while they, at the same time, show me the everyday magic that is truly their lives. I love the normal things we do, waking up and making coffee, stumbling out for a stroll to peruse unexpected stoop sales, blearily talking about the previous evening over challah french toast, walking and walking and walking and just stopping when you're hungry for a slice... because that's what I used to do when *I* lived in Manhattan.

They're so glad when I leave town, but in those moments I get to love them more, love them closely, inserting myself stubbornly into their private habits, than I ever could from a pretty glittery impersonal room...

Down here, I leave my same stubborn heavy-handed touch, gifting stories through plants, that, like those memories given to me, I hope these plants will tease a smile when I'm absent.  And so I brought someone who has made me laugh, especially because she laughed at Suburb's Ignorance when I was low over my chickunz-taken-away-by-ignorant-suburbia, I brought Mrs. Esh a gift of citronella from my garden, to hers.

Remember when we used to chart the extreme temperatures outdoors vs. indoors camping in the bare-bones passive solar house kit through rough seasons? That got boring so we've moved on to more fun: Energy consumption now that the solar system is hooked up.

Sooooo... right now we have the south room illuminated, lights on in the 6yr old's bedroom, bathroom, our room... and we check to see our entire household power consumption is.... 54 watts. Hahahaha that's like the average old light bulb wattage, powering our entire house!!!! Now of course once the HRV, etc. systems are hooked up... but... still... we shall see!

We reflect on LEDs: Three years ago we couldn't find them *anywhere* in Virginia. Now we just casually stop by Home Depot or Lowe's on the way out with a new (old reused) vintage lamp and pick them up without thinking twice about it.

Efficiency is easier these days in the little things like light bulbs, DC power appliances...... couple that with
a passive solar insulated house and... wow.

Anyhoo, about that history stuff:

You know that, well, around here in Virginia... there's LOTS of history... and through the next five years, Clover Hill Village is hosting history reenactments leading up to the 150th anniversary of the surrender at Appomattox. Learn more at LongRoadHome150.com. I encourage you all to please do come visit. Honestly, the crowd this weekend was not so diverse. That was not the fault of the organizers, participants, or spectators. Please do come, and start that dialog about United States history with your child.

We had a lot of questions from our own children ("Which side are we on?" "Errrrr...well, your history is Confederate, and we're proud to be Southern Culture but you have to balance history with today...") and I try to weigh where you dip them into the excitement, then gently teach them about history ("Well, child, in *that* photograph in the book we brought home on this subject they are NOT playing dead. Would you like to learn more?") so they want to learn more later. I'd like to discuss this with some of my history museum friends... I think that to see more diverse participation it needs to be bigger so all voices are told and heard... but you have to remember the people who volunteer for this are major history geek volunteers but they don't have more manpower except to do the "Ok this battle happened here" and "we can show people what it's like to be a blacksmith" versus the darker, richer, deeply woven tapestry of what could be told. I do know that Clover Hill is a deep part of the entire Appomattox community, providing so many wonderful events for children and well worth supporting. Their volunteers are *AMAZING.* I don't know how they do it- they always have education and humor, no matter how many people ask them the same question.

I am very, very grateful to the many, many people that dedicated their time, skills, expertise, knowledge and above all, great humor, kindness and laughs for the memorable experience we were able to give our children this weekend.

The people that put this on are kind, kind people who want everyone to visit. They're working with what they have, to try to teach, usually for free. I'd like to hear what my friends at the American Civil War Center would say, a museum dedicated to the telling of all voices of the Civil War... The Long Road Home at Clover Hill Village did a super job. We can't wait to come back, thank you all so much for all you do.


Here's some more videos for you history and cannon firing geeks:

Appomattox Clover Hill Historical Village 1


Appomattox Clover Hill Historical Village 2

No Till
have to mention that I'm seeing more and more fields nearby strewn as no till, and when, like this weekend, after you have past weeks of rains and wind, you can literally SEE the difference:

On the left, a no till field, last season's crop stalks, remnants providing compost and cover for this season's upcoming crop. On the right, plowed field whose valuable nutrients and topsoil have washed into the lower pond which is now dirty and, uh,  not so great for their livestock or fish that depend upon it, eh? Much less the seeds are going to have a darned hard time popping through that crust...

Last week eight people died and over 40 people were injured in Germany when high winds kicked up surrounding fields' topsoil and blew it over the Auto Bahn. Did we not learn from the Dust Bowl?



I don't know what to say after that video.
So, on a "finishing the interior" note, our verdict on the SIP stew?
Meh.
I'm about to pack it all in and git me some drywall. Dag.
I just want this house done, done done done done done done.
It will never be done. Because next? We build fences. And plant. And...

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4/7/11

Rainwater System Update : The Cynical, DOOMSDAY, Jaded, Ornery Post From The Prefab House Kit

Doom And Gloom!


Our cistern / rainwater design now accommodates radiation rainfall scenarios.
Very sad, shocking, but realistically a preventative option that we would be foolish not to implement. Here Rainwater Management Solutions's Rick Hall gives an overview on how the rainwater system filters contaminated drinking water:



Ominous clouds gather! The gale of uncertainty rages!



Take it eaaaaaaaasy... take it eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-aaaaaaay-hay-sy.
I don't believe in fear mongering or paranoid pathos. But my practical side thinks being prepared is... well, practical, and if there's a chance o' radioactive meltdowns spewing atoms in the air that might globally circulate into our rainwater stream, well, why not. As a sailor I get the winds o' the world and how fast they can travel... for a few bucks, fine, I'll do it.

It also reminds me that as much as I tell everyone to Keep On The Sunny Side, practical prevention and knowledge of practical skills are also another indicator of a major cultural schism that has been growing, nation-wide, for decades.
Trippy.
And sometimes, when you're surrounded by such people who think you're weird because you value skillz, even hellish.




If knowledge is power, then I'm concerned when I look out at a nation of people who don't know basic things like how to cook, how to make simple things like jam or yogurt... to me that is kinda crazy.

It's like everyone has been lulled into losing their Mad Cool Crafty Frugal Skillz.  
What happened to our culture where the average grocery clerk doesn't even know what yogurt starter is? And it seems that only ONE grocery store carries yogurt culture in the entire city?!? Where are all the crafty practical people?!? Oh, I know they're there, because they're our friends! But... it's just kind of weird that pretty much 99.9% of this city doesn't have a market for making yogurt and whatnot. I guess they just grab the plasticized versions of yogurt, cheese, food....

Read: Cotton Candy Go-gurt – The Final Desecration of Yogurt

Inside the Label: Oscar Meyer’s Lunchables Turkey and Cheddar Cracker Stackers

A great nanny!
Even look at our pets: People bred the intelligence out of most purebred dogs, and no longer look for function.  I appreciate our great farm dog mutt who patrols the perimeter, herds the family, and leaps ten feet into the air to snap at predators aiming to dine on chickens... that is a *valuable* dog.

And don't get me started on the practical pleasure of backyard chickens... ; )

SPEAKING OF... The Richmond Chamber of Commerce and city council visits Austin this week to see why they're such a more livable town. Lessee, #RVA has talent, music, architecture... what could it be? What could it be?
What do all three cities they've visited (Austin, Raleigh, Oklahoma City) have that we don't have? 
#CHICKUNZ

Anyhoo, we stayed behind last weekend and spent a glorious day working in the garden, planting (late) spring seeds and pulling weeds. 


Handsome Husband went to The Big Box Meatball Store and got some easy drop-in base cabinets for the zero energy off grid prefab home's kitchen...and it wasn't what I blogged about. But it looks good, is more solid than what I chose off of the internet when he viewed it close up.

The children set up their Amish Stand and spent the day selling Army Men, Toys Eaten By Their Dogs and Broken Rocks to 40-year-old men. Maybe next time we'll also make cookies...

I get the stink-eye from the neighboring moms each weekend we're in town over that front yard stand... I think they think it's distasteful my children are vying for actual money. Hey, neighborhood moms, it's ok- maybe my children will hire your children one day!
-GrowingUpEntrepreneursHeckThey'reLearningDarnedGoodWorkEthic

Ya know...these same women do not hesitate to mass email for their child's fundraiser (and btw- whatever happened to making the child earn the money themselves?)... One of my children's victims was a consultant at Capital One who loved their financial intent; I explained about how they are growing up with Amish stands so this is very normal to them and he was really into the financial independence and homesteading culture they've experienced! (And he really liked the Army Men!) 


So it's not fair of me to dismiss the *entire neighborhood*- people have pointedly stopped by whenever we are here to tell us they are glad to see us. I need to be fair to that. 

So right when I think this Boring Ignorant Suburb experience has turned me into a jaded ole sour puss, Granny Miller strews sunshine my way:
When life throws you barriers, just git on yer cow and jump 'em.



Because you have patiently listened to me rant these past weeks, I'm going to share some Super Secret news:

We have some exciting announcements coming up for the Green Modern Kits brand!
I am fresh off a conference call with Akemi Tanaka and the factory and yes, the modern furniture line, Akemi Tanaka For Green Modern Kits is finally happening- furniture that does multiple things in small spaces, designed for our prefab house kits! We are pulling something together timed for ICFF, I am *very* excited to move this forward, and with great partners. Like all the stories I've told, it is about the family and friends you build through serendipitous overlap that make the whole so strong.

By the way, speaking of friends and skills like cooking (and that if *I* can do it, ANYONE can) this week I made:
Scott And Catherine Kyle's Vegan *Delicious* Carrot Almond Soup Except Bastardized By Copeland And Turned Into Pureed Butternut Squash Soup With Chicken Stock
[What?]
If you want Delicious Vegan Carrot Soup, follow the first list. If you want Curried Squash Puree With Chicken Broth, follow the -› then those ingredients listed instead. Both are delicious. Scott and Catherine brought this to our Farewell Chickunz Party, it is incredibly tasty.
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil -› or any fat you have on hand
  • 1 3/4 curry powder (I put in a LOT more!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes (I put in a LOT more!)
  • 3 garlic cloves (Um, I know this will surprise you but I... put in more)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 lb carrots, peeled and chopped -› lotsa butternut squash, baked 20 minutes, then cubed (save the seeds! save the seeds! and toast 'em! deelish!)
  • 4 cups water -› grab some chicken broth from the freezer
  • 2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk -› cream or coconut milk
  • 4 cilantro sprigs, leaves and stems reserved seperately
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted -› toasted butternut squash seeds
Cook onion in oil w/ 1/2 tsp. salt on medium heat, stirring, until soft (about 10min). Add curry, red pepper, ginger, garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add carrots, water, almond milk, cilantro stems, 1/2 tsp. salt & simmer, stirring until tender (about 20-30 minutes). Puree. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and toasted almonds. I served with dollops of creme + toasted seeds, YUM!

I also made a pasta for mah child who is beleaguered by a head cold. I call this...
Momma Make You Better Pasta
  • slice into 1" lengths: 4 carrots, 1-2 onions,  1/2 red cabbage
  • mince garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • organic brown sugar
  • rice vinegar
  • dice sausage 
  • pasta to taste (I used up whatever was left in 2 boxes to make an "almost 3/4 of a box"- let the veggies be the star and everything else round it out)
Sautee in whatever fat / oil you have on hand : your onion, carrots until soft then add garlic, sautee awhile, add cabbage, stir about five minutes, turning, then add sausage, brown sugar. Cook pasta. Once the pasta is done, drain it and add to the mix, add in sprinkles of vinegar, lemon juice, more brown sugar until you get the sweet and sour mix you like and everything has flavor. Vitamins and lemon to assuage your cold are served!

No Prefab Visit? Again? Well... It is supposed to rain all weekend... Yet I am just dying to get out to the land and, if the weather breaks, look for all the great things coming up out of the ground this time of year... ramps, morels, creases... and the wildflowers are popping out all over Virginia... and I'm ready to eat 'em! Check out Spring Beauty, here, an old favorite food of native american children...

I also have some vintage lamps to drag out...

And wait! It'll be EARTH DAY! No better way to celebrate living lightly than a beautiful, modern, energy efficient, zero energy off grid house...

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