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9/25/11

Remember The Rainbow Over The Prefab House Kit?

[Remember the rainbow over the prefab house kit?]

The closest way to explain this week is... It's like... Light bursting out of you. This blog speaks from my perspective, my prefab house kit companies, but don't forget there is a family.

For Handsome Husband, on Sunday he had some dark moments, professionally. Tuesday brightened. Wednesday upended. And then... And then people, people all over the world, CAME for him. We are EXCITED. I haven't been filled with this much happy readiness since that unexpected day when an offer arrived, and, with a week to move, I decided to move: To New Yawk Cit-tay. And there, made lifelong friends with professional opportunity.

It's like that moment when that rainbow appeared, out of nowhere a few weeks ago, and dramatically arced over the off grid prefab house kit:



We opened ourselves up... and let it all go... and it was as if everything that has been holding us back these "having children years" was ripped apart, BEAMS of light hitting dark spaces everywhere, in every way, in every aspect of our lives. We don't just "have" to settle for this anymore. Suddenly our "Ten Year Plan To Build The Farm And Move There" became... immediately possible. While growing our business(es). While the excitement of other cities, somehow working it all together to... OUR satisfaction.

We go back... back to the land, to the soil, while curiously, intellectually moving forward, world wide.

Out Of Economic Chaos, A New Order May Be Rising




"Every week it seems there are more people looking for work, more companies laying people off, and more nations teetering at the edge of unrecoverable debt. But beyond the latest headlines of gloom, there is a fundamental shift going on in our economy and our world. Host Scott Simon talks with Mike Hawley, formerly of MIT's Media Lab, who says that shift may also hold great promise."
Another must-read: What’s Not Infrastructure About Social and Environmental Infrastructure? 
"Economic geeks tell a joke about Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates that goes a long way to explaining why so many cities face a budgetary crisis that can result in serious tears in the city’s social fabric while undermining its ability to invest in projects that beautify and restore the environment. 
Gates was crossing a border point, the joke goes, when a customs officer pointed to his suitcase and asked if Gates had anything to declare. Gates said no."
We consider D.C., Warsaw, Lynchburg, Richmond, New York. But our hearts sing:
Take Me Down To Pamplin City Where The Grass Is Green And The Gurls Are Pretty / Oh Won't You / Take Me Ho-oooooooome



It's never goodbye to anyone we value. We'll be around, everywhere. But it's finally a Big Hello *BACK* to The World.

Remember The Real World, not this muddy, gray, this-is-a-good-decision-for-the-kids-place... hereDo you really care from where I type into the ether?
This sustainable journey is about to get much, much better.
After a few years toeing the line, we are ready to LIVE.

I start picturing the MAD yard sale I'll have. I mean, I am a lifelong Thrift Store gal. I will be unloading.
[Remember Vintage Hat Fridays?!?
THAT was some Thrift Store Goodness!]

Picture:
The 1960s Hostess Gowns.
The mid-century china.
Shelves full of vintage cookbooks.
Think of the... furniture.

So this article, which I read over my morning coffee, disgusted me, as it was actually AIMED TOWARDS YARD SALES:
Unloading Stuff? Watch For Taxes.
"When you sell something at a loss, you can't claim a deduction. But if you realize a gain, you'll owe a capital-gains tax. The rate will vary, depending on the nature of the item and how long you have owned it."
Ok. I pay taxes on an item. The item increases in value. I sell it. I "get" (but not necessarily agree with) that the tax collector wants more money because I had good sense in a smart investment. But then, if I sell that same item at a lesser price, I should ALSO be able to take a deduction, no? If you're going to make me pay for its increase in value, then let's be fair and deduct for the decrease, no?

(Not to mention the topic of passing on our hard earned, taxes paid, items on to our children... That's what you call stewardship, people... That's sustainable.)


Just one more thing to make you go, "Hmmmmmmm..."

Ok, everyone: Gitcher 1990s Dance On:

I was thinking about how strange the ways of government can be, where an article in a national journal during a depression would be writing about what average people OWE THEM when people have yard sales when I saw this:



I mean, I honestly don't quite know or understand what the Wall Street Protests are about and it looks like even the protesters don't either. Overall I think it has something to do with people incensed over things like Warren Buffet paying less taxes than his secretary. Incensed over all the loopholes "Wall Street" seems to repeatedly "get away with" when people are suffering, when you have articles like today's aforementioned Wall Street Journal article lecturing People Like Us about Giving Government More Money for our freakin' Craigslist sales. 

People get miffed, the things they read don't seem practical, fair or make sense, and so they march.

From OccupyWallSt.org:
"Hundreds of demonstrators gathered near Wall Street in New York City to protest against the existing financial system, which they say is the cause of the economic crisis and is fueling social injustice."

What did Wall Street do? Mock them from balconies while sipping champagne.
[Make sure you read that call to mock... I'm all about washing hippies but to scornfully douse them with your champagne dangerously puts you close to famously pursed, delicate lips recklessly uttering "Let Them Eat Cake."]

In the meantime? We face the storm.



You might even find us dancing in the rain. Stay tuned.

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9/19/11

Passive Solar Prefab Home Readies For Adventure


In Virginia, fall arrived.



I entitle this: "She Plays With Weeds."


Forgive the diffused pictures. I somehow had the camera on a weird setting. In reality, the light was gold. It's that sharp, slanting gold that only happens in autumn as the leaves begin to turn... Outside, the children bundled up in hooded sweaters and jackets and leggings to run with their newly-energetic-and-ferociously-wild-now-that-the-weather-is-cooler dogs and play, but inside? I've got coffee brewing on the wood cook stove: it is toasty warm in the energy efficient prefab SIP home

In fact, thanks to the cook stove makin' mah coffee, I had to open all the windows it was so hot on this chilly autumn day!

Each year, especially in fall, I walk over to where the road dips to the second field and tobacco barn to take a picture of The View, just because it makes me happy. It occurred to me as I did so today how much that landscape changed:
Then
Now: crop tree release,
a natural pool begun-but-not-finished...

First, we finally graded around the prefab house site; hence bulldozing back the two hills of soil that had been standing there during the prefab construction, waiting, growing plenteous blackberries and providing us with Many Documented Digging Adventures along the field...


This soil was now all moved back around the home site after we were finally able to purchase, install, and bury the rainwater cistern this summer.

While grading around the home site, they used that opportunity of a bulldozer on site to scoop out the One Day This Will Be A Natural Pool and free up some oaks and wild dogwoods from scrubby weed trees. So now that area is more open, with lined with oaks now free to breathe!

With the home site excavated, we began to seed, seed, seed: and finally: I see rye! It's beautiful!!! I always wanted my field to look like this!!!! (Disclosure: We still have *a ways* to go on that field...)

For the past four years we bush hogged the field to cut down weeds, then began to seed clover, fescue, and now: rye. Slowly we are seeing the field return to healthy soil. When my Kenyan "little brother" Kippy came to visit recently, and I mentioned we stayed up late talking and drinking beer... We were staying up late talking soil, and our recollections on how our family farms (and we, today) work hard to improve our land.  He is going to write on his own recollections on building a farm from nothing, in Kenya, as a guest post soon!

You now know "The Dustbowl" can happen again, it already has: Ask Somalia, Texas, Arizona... (insert an endless list of places here...) Yet so many cities that strive to bill themselves as "livable" and "sustainable" still aren't paying attention to their soil. Y'all, top soil isn't just about farms, you pesticide-sprayin', soil-depletin' urban-ish medium-sized cities that refuse to... to look at what your peers are doing!



FYI, two articles I read this week, to consider:

Is urban regeneration dead in the UK? (see page 4) (To consider for USA cities as well - I particularly like their mention of Seattle, who seems to be a beacon of 1. livable 2. community... all which we can improve upon, in Richmond...) http://www.cles.org.uk/yourblogs/the-end-of-regeneration-is-just-the-beginning/#&panel1-1

Less Work, More Living : Working fewer hours could save our economy, save our sanity, and help save our planet. http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/new-livelihoods/less-work-more-living

I found this article interesting because this is how our neighbors in Pamplin City already live - although I suspect they would disagree with the hours part...
 
This weekend, we hung curtains over the cavernous, chaotic closet areas to tidy up the prefab interior until we can build built-ins:

Later:
It's ironic I had written more about the philosophy of sustainable living and working earlier today, because late this afternoon we had a quick family meeting as something unexpected hit us. We're about to start a new chapter in life, and  we are very, very excited about it.


Because my business is all over the internetz... ; ) y'all will have access to me as usual, regardless, and my businesses will not be affected. If anything, I might be even more accessible, geographically.


In Richmond, I had sowed my fall garden; I was 3/4 the way done. Now I save that 1/4 seed, carefully, to collect and scatter elsewhere.
Give us time, we'll tell ya more.

Xoxoxoxoxo to all the internet.



"You've never seen anything like it in your life!
Filled with Adventure! Thrills! Enchantment!
ROMANCE...and Music!"



#StayTunedWeMightNotSayAWord
ForAWeekOrEightMonthsButWe'reDecided
AndAreAlreadyPackingAndStuffingTheSuitcases
WithOurThoughtsOnTheFieldsAndCitiesWeLove

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9/15/11

Prefab SIP House Work Continues, Certifications, And B Corporation

We head to the off grid prefab house this weekend!
We continue to work on finishing the interior of the structural insulated panels of the prefab modern house.


Note: Y'all do realize that cutting wood and hanging plywood all over the prefab home's SIP on the interior - the walls, those gorgeous-yet-high ceilings... to then paint it and hang wall paper... you DO realize that's going to take all winter and into spring, right? Anyone want to come visit and help? 

On a business note: At the huge Richmond Unite event, (You remember that event, right? Where I spoke about urban hens and had panic attacks in front of a huge convention hall full o' people including Sir Richard Branson and a bunch o' astronauts?) there was much discussion and presentations on B Corporations.

I also read an article in the UK's Guardian: Businesses should link environmental and financial impact, investors urge. The USA equivalent seems to be a B corporation.

From Wikipedia:
"A Benefit corporation, is a new class of corporation in several states of the United States, required by law to create general benefit for society as well as for shareholders. Benefit Corporations must create a material positive impact on society; consider how decisions affect employees, community and the environment; and publicly report their social and environmental performance using established third-party standards."
Just as we in green building talk about LEED and Passiv Haus certifications, I believe we should hold hand in hand with certifications on energy efficiency the certifications on how our business is done.

That's not to say I'll become a B Corporation - y'all know how *I* feel about paperwork!
I say let the data talk, and walk the walk! But I do understand the value in all these certifications. Learn more:




Any-hoo, regarding last weekend: We were sad to see our Kenyan family leave! It was a pretty raucous, unexpected, ended-way-too-soon 24 hours. Lots of hugging, baby kissing, generation mixin' (and with Kippy- long nights talkin'-and-beer-drinkin')...

All prior plans were nixed because any time Phyllis Keino breezes through is a rare gift you never take for granted. She doesn't get off the farm often, with all those children to chase!

And Kippy, well, Kippy is like my little brother so I do get to take him for granted and tease him. ; )

Best quote of the visit:
Phyllis, to Sister, reflectively and approvingly:
"Ah, four children! It's such a nice, easy number!"
Sister: "Um, YEAH, coming from the woman with ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN!"


[Learn more about Phyllis and The Lewa Childrens Home, here: http://www.lewachildrenshome.info/]

On 9/11, we watched the coverage on tv in the morning, then brought the laptop into the kitchen, turned on BBC (the regular tv networks had quickly lost interest and resumed scheduled programming) and live streamed the coverage, until it was over, until every name had been read. While it streamed I shelled beans and made the first fall stew from summer's garden bounty.  The children would wander in, wander out, stop, look at the faces, the families reading names, wander off... they were curious- "What, they're STILL reading names?!?" and I felt they were absorbing whatever was appropriate, for their age, while living their day... but I know it sunk in. They had so many questions.

Watching the 9/11 commemoration with young children that are now old enough to begin to understand:
We instilled the history & grief of the facts, while emphasizing the strength & love that grew from this act of hate: So many feats of great love, great strength- deep bonds of love and community that were borne *BECAUSE* of that day.

Copeland's I Love You Stew
I gathered a bunch of things from the garden - lots of beans, lots of cherry tomatoes, some onion, a few spicy peppers, I sorted out some of the tiniest potatoes to give it more richness & depth (but not too many)... These potatoes are *delicious,* a deep buttery gold. I ordered these Yukon Golds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

From the garden: Slow cook tomatoes + different beans, some shelled, some not + onions + minced hottish peppers + the smallest potatoes dug. Added sliced local beef  + dollops of hot Indian chutney. You could replace the chutney with some home canned, diced pears or some jam + Amish hot-yet-sweet pepper relish... The key is that this is a *savory,* mainly vegetable stew with meat / broth with sweet *and* hot moments.  

This simmered in broth I had earlier frozen, in the crock pot, all afternoon. 
Finally I couldn't wait - it was so hot when I succumbed to a bowl that I burned my tongue when I ate it, but it smelled (and tasted) so good; it was worth it. ; )

This will go great, made on the cook stove in the passive solar, off grid, prefab house with fresh crusty bread made by Handsome Husband this winter...
Windows might be open now in the prefab house, but winter arrives soon!
Get ready for some cook stove cookin'!

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9/10/11

Richmond Is Neither Livable Nor Sustainable Without Our Urban Hens

My Kenyan family is here! More on that later. 
So no going to work on the off grid prefab house kit this weekend. 

But I did do something sustainable-minded today... Oh yes, it's another post on...


For some crazy reason, Richmond Unite asked me to speak at their huge event at the Richmond Convention Center. I detest public speaking.

But the issue... well, here is what I wrote down as to what I *wanted* to impart. Whether I said it or not I can not say; my eyes were glazed over as I spoke while staring into rows of people, a convention center full of people, endless rows upon rows of people... staring... at... me. Including Sir Richard Branson. astronaut Buzz Aldrin (YES! *BUZZ ALDRIN!*) and Tumblr's founder, David Karp. And a bunch of people.

Oh gracious, there goes my heart rate again...

I don't remember a thing. 
So here's, instead, what I wrote:

I'd rather be talkin' tech.

Bio: A founder of Copeland Casati Media, Copeland Casati later started three passive solar, affordable prefab house kit companies:
GreenModernKits.com,
GreenCottageKits.com, and GreenCabinKits.com and would soooo much rather be speaking to you professionally about technology, energy efficient green building, or off grid living. But for the past four, almost five years, her volunteer focus has been on... CHICKUNZ.

I’ll be direct: I have an intense fear of public speaking so have brought Lisa Dearden, founder of ChiknEGG.com and Richmond’s My Manakin Market along as a CHICKUNZ member to step in case I need to step out.

[I really wish all y'all people would just stay on the internetz! Seriously. Who needs to meet in real life. Just know the only way I’m getting through this is that I’m picturing y’all ALL nekked. It’s... not... helping.]


Public speaking makes my stomach turn. But what upsets me more and propels me to speak today is because regional Richmond officials refuse to allow our community a simple sustainable food right: The right to have back yard hens.

Urban hens have always been a part of regional Richmond, and this basic food right is key to our future if we want to take livability and sustainability seriously. We wish Richmond would catch up to what livable cities all over the world embrace.

On Tuesday, our Richmond forced a family with young children, whose husband had lost his job three weeks ago and was their only source of income, to get rid of their back yard hens.

On Thursday, a Chesterfield family lost their hens. That family’s father is disabled, and the mother out of work.

Is this a livable city? Is this the Richmond we want to be?

Over 17.2 million households [not people: HOUSEHOLDS] are affected by food insecurity here in the United States.

Richmond takes hens from jobless families.

Well, technically, hens *are* allowed in Richmond city if you have 500ft of space from the coop to a residence (in Henrico, you would need 400ft - which, by the way, is over a football field in length). That means hens are currently available to only extremely wealthy citizens who can afford backyards... the size of stadiums.

Yet in most other, much larger, busier cities, zoning embraces urban hens. Why is it New York, Portland, Austin, Seattle, Boston, Raleigh and other livable cities embrace hens with even smaller lots, yet regional Richmond won’t consider hens in the average back yard? When I started CHICKUNZ four years ago, we created a list of pro-chicken cities. These days it is much easier to note the few and fewer cities that are anti-hen than pro-hen.

Richmond is currently, officially, anti-hen.
Unlike neighboring Ashland, Petersburg, Charlottesville, Raleigh...

My husband also works in technology. The Fortune 500 company for whom he works has been bought twice in two years. BOTH HEADQUARTERS’ cities, on two different sides of the country, embrace urban hens. A Richmond native, I'd love for this technology company with smart people to move here and call Richmond home. But I could never ask these families to give up their hens! Knowing they'd have to give up the right to backyard eggs for their families, why would I then ethically try to entice them to relocate here?

Google your favorite, “livable” cities and then add “coop tour” to your query to see how YOUR favorite cities are not only celebrating coops but using them to entice business, promote tourism, and enhance their community’s sustainability.

Raleigh’s Tour D’Coop just raised over $5,000 and 3,000 pounds of food for their local food bank.

The country of Belgium actually asks its citizens to keep hens, so that municipal waste is further reduced. In England, nursing homes are adding hens to help Alzheimers patients and boost their resident’s quality of life.


If Richmond wants to consider itself truly livable and sustainable, we need to allow our community to bring back hens, we need to embrace our craftsmen, the arts, we need the freedom to let. our. culture. flourish.
From http://chickunz.tumblr.com


One of the most beautiful terms I heard this year was a Southern, African-American term that refers to backyard hens: In African-American cultures of a certain age, they refer to chickens as Glory Birds.

Glory Birds because no matter where you live or what your circumstances are, if you can keep a few hens, you are grateful: you have those hens to sustain you through good, and bad, times.

The hens give to you in so many ways, hence, a truly Glorious Bird.

Without my hens now, I truly appreciate the term.

Our hens gave us glory in so many ways: The eggs, of course, but the humor, the connection to the food we eat, the impact on our children raised with the intimate knowledge and responsibility and appreciation for backyard sustenance. And when the hens were taken? Our back yard fruit trees were stripped by squirrels now able to enter the yard because there was no busy-body flock o’ hens to chase them.

Every day we tally and watch our losses, each season without hens where my family could benefit from an easily more-food-secure urban average back yard.
Why doesn’t Richmond support this?

Ask your representatives.

So. What has CHICKUNZ done over the past year to help Richmond?

To sum up what our members of CHICKUNZ have done in the past year to help regional Richmond: (Much credit to Amy R., Sheena M., Derryl C. and many, many, hundreds of people whom have participated - signing petitions, making presentations, calling officials, educating others...)

1. Sponsored by Richmond’s chapter of Green Drinks, a green building professional and enthusiast organization, we had over 80 engineers, architects, teachers and curious families attend Richmond's 1st Annual Coop Tour last May, with even a local winery and artisan cheese vendor providing local food! http://prefab-green-home.greenmodernkits.com
/2010/05/mama-were-all-crazy-now-urban-chickens.html


2. We requested and collected data on local chicken complaints: https://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=79428593368&topic=22604

Did you know that... in one regional Richmond locality (only two provided us with data, and for the record, the city of Richmond did not respond to our query):
“Out of 55,840 calls, there were 192 calls related to chickens.” 

From Henrico: “"Just to give you an idea, as a unit we respond to over 21,000 animal related calls each year. Of those 21,000, about 5,000 are wildlife related and the rest are domestic animals or livestock. I can safely say that we receive no more than maybe 150 or so calls in regards to chickens in a year’s time. "
These miniscule numbers, from a day when hens can be reported for just... being... hens. [And note: we are NOT advocating roosters! Which made up the majority of those complaints.]

3. We began petitions for regional Richmond: https://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=79428593368&topic=8524

4. We researched and published what many other cities are doing for zoning: https://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=79428593368&topic=7079

5. And wrote and reached out to officials (AND are collecting their stances so people know how to vote) https://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=79428593368&topic=22601

6. We organized a Businesses For CHICKUNZ breakfast at Richmond’s La Diff this spring to show how many local businesses, that provide our city with revenue, "get" that sustainability includes chickens: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150154401333369.286212.79428593368

Because? Back yard hens make good, practical business sense for our community.


You might recognize a few prominent businesses here in this list, including your sponsor Techead and Richmond’s La Diff and Posh Tots and James River Air and... well, the list goes on. If you’d like your business included on this list, contact me.

7. Members have attended and volunteered at several Richmond events with an educational display, most recently at Broad Appetit and Richmond’s Earth Day festival.

8. Hey David Karp! We even created a tumblr account to highlight backyards with happy hens or without hens that really want them: http://chickunz.tumblr.com/


9. Lisa Dearden of ChiknEGG organized a showing of the urban chicken documentary Mad City Chickens at The Byrd Theater this spring.
And upcoming events?

We will have Richmond’s 2nd Annual Coop Tour in October! And coming this winter? Well, you’ll have to join our Facebook page, CHICKUNZ, to stay abreast of details.

From http://chickunz.tumblr.com

I believe the ability for families to have hens is a basic food right that should be available for all of regional Richmond.
I believe Richmond needs to rethink noise. We do not advocate for roosters. Hens lay eggs without roosters. No need for roosters in an urban setting!

But a hen’s cluck? Much less noisy than any barking dog. Think about it: It would take about ten hens to make up the poundage of the average lab, yet they produce less noise, waste, and even benefit your soil. WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL?!?

The same residents who are afraid they might hear a hen cluck are *always* the same ones who think nothing about hiring yard crews to jump out of trucks with huge yard tools, weed whacking and leaf blowing for hours at... any hour.

How do you explain that your hens are illegal to your young children?
“Well, they are legal in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, DC, Portland, Austin... (start listing off hundreds of cities)... They *are* legal just down the road in Ashland, Charlottesville, Petersburg, Raleigh... 
Sweeties, we’re just waiting for Richmond to catch up.

We believe Richmond can catch up. Ask your officials to please do. I’m sadly starting to tally the cool technology / creative families leaving specifically for hen-friendly cities, like where many headquarters of Fortune 500 companies reside.

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9/4/11

Forget The Grid: Prefab Home - Off Grid Comfort In A Passive Solar Home


We left the Richmond house, still without power from Hurricane Irene, on...oh... Day Six?
Shockingly, we decided not to camp as planned. Instead, we fled to the prefab passive solar OFF GRID house. I have no idea if power is restored in Richmond. Who cares, we're here, at our cozy, beloved, energy efficient prefab SIP home!



Finally, a weekend where it feels like summer should: A steady breeze, hot afternoons, a nephew visiting, happy Pipsqueaks, lots of practical projects while having lots of fun.
Broadcast seed spreading winter rye.
And spread parsnip seeds I had collected
from our urban garden in Richmond.

After eight years of use, our camping stove broke, which we use along with the solar cooker for summer cooking, so we resorted to campfire... to the children's delight. It was another chance to keep them busy while Playing With Fire, which also involves Fire Safety And Building 101.

In the mornings, they made my coffee and heated my bath water.
We will have solar hot water this fall. In the meantime...

In the evening, we tossed the dutch oven back into the fire and made feasts.


Copeland's Campfire Short Ribs
Collect a bunch o' stuff from the garden to add with Boxwood Beef / your local pastured beef in a dutch oven:
Layer: sliced onions, then a bunch of ribs, then sliced green & red peppers, semi-spicy peppers (minced), top with all the green beans you can find & a smattering of cherry tomatoes. After about an hour in the (low) fire, dump in a bunch of precooked rice (having made it for another dish a few days ago: jasmine rice + cloves of garlic & bay leaves, remove the bay leaves after cooking) on the top and cook another half hour over fire. The rice will absorb all that grease yet it won't be grease overkill - with so many veggies tossed in, it all melds together well into a hearty, savory, roasty dish that is *delicious* on a cool night for a bunch of hungry, hungry childrenz!

Handsome Husband cut VMI Basketball Court further for window framing. No progress to show on the interior, as the weekend was spent cutting lengths of wood. Those historic maple floorboards are going to look gorgeous framing the energy efficient, modern windows in the prefab.

We got, as a byproduct, lots more nice sawdust for the composting toilet. That's some historic sawdust!

The Pipsqueaks were sent off to sort and stack kindling for winter.

There might have even been a brief swim at Holliday Lake...

Until the thunderstorm arose, and we hightailed it back to the prefab, to, after the thunder passed, dance in the fields in the rain, while blaring The Clash and singing loudly and off key with my ten year old nephew who knows *every* *word* to *every* *song* on the album, ha.

They turned the modern, clean interior of the prefab into... a tent city.

They shot BB guns at mah clean laundry until I caught them and shooed them off with a stern reprimand.
Kaaaa-PING!
And this morning they discovered, "rescued" and released Fred, to continue his box turtle journey in the woods... far away from all of us.
Fred. A.k.a. Turtlelini, *my* fond nickname.
Turtlelini, you just keep on, keepin' on.

The solar cooker stayed busy cookin' chicken quesadillas, reheating leftovers... but the sky was overcast, often, so we relied more on fire... the Naked Potato Salad and Homemade Molasses Boston Beans were perfect for solar cooking.


Naked Potato Salad
Freshly dug potatoes, baked yet firm, then diced.
Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Glugs of the best olive oil you can lay yer hands on.
Minced onion. Grind pepper over it all and toss.
Reheat in solar cooker, dig in: yum.

We planted figs. 
I grew up with them on the Chesapeake Bay, and had brought a few from our Bay Weekend to my Amish neighbor Mrs. E last week as a treat. She politely said, "My, they do look just like the ones in my back yard! But I *must* taste them!" (tasted, politely, dismissively:) "Why yes, they do taste just like my figs!" We laughed, and, knowing I can grow figs here, Handsome Husband and I  promptly bought two fig trees to plant this weekend. One for the nephew and Pipsqueaks, one for us.

Forget fighting family members and neighbors over the Chesapeake Bay figs - we have our *own* figs now. One more edible addition to our progress at Higher Ground.

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9/1/11

Day Five Of No Power - I'm Missing Our Off Grid Prefab Home!

Our off grid prefab home looks especially radiant to me
after being back in Richmond with *still* no power!

Here's some last videos of our Hurricane Irene weekend in the off grid prefab house:


After a day of rain and wind, the hurricane was passing.
All of a sudden this coral light just BURST through the skies. We ran outside: beautiful!

[Excuse the mess, below: Did I mention we used our "indoor time" during the hurricane to saw up plywood to start covering the interior SIP? Yep: Sawdust and construction stuff *everywhere.* But even despite my running into the front door by mistake (doh!) AND the shakiness of the camera you can sense how *still* it is inside- you can even hear a dog's nails clicking on the concrete floor vs. the chaos of outdoors!]


More "let's do construction stuff while this hurricane is going on and make a HUGE MESS" photos:
Plywood - Handsome Husband went through the entire stack
to select the ones he wanted! He did a great job.


Sawdust. Everywhere. *EVERYWHERE!*
[sob]
['Cause what's a bored, trapped-in-a-hurricane guy to do?]

Hurricane Irene passed. We returned to Richmond.
I *immediately* began kicking myself for not bringing some of my favorite off grid items from the off grid prefab home.

We have an automatic generator at the mid-century, an investment we undertook years ago after trying to run a business for two weeks without electricity after Hurricane Isabell; so yes, there are hot showers, refridgeration and lights here.  But if we are without power for any length of time (and, with 2.5 million without power in Virginia this week, I think we will be), here is what I most regret not bringing:

The Lehman's Hand Pressurewasher.
(Ha, this was from a hot day and she was splashing in the drained water!)

My solar cooker.

And our Pamplin City-Population-199 community's chivalry. Thoughtfulness. Practicality.
All sorely needed at Richmond's "All the traffic lights are out and you must manage the intersections as a four-way stop, folks."

Here's where we stand today: DAY FIVE: (Or is it six? I forget!) Our neighborhood is still dark, trees are down, we have crushed homes, garages, smushed (vintage and not so vintage) cars... here's some shots from our block:
Downed trees and power lines everywhere...
Vintage Mercedes on the street behind us.
This used to be my cousin's huge, pristine garage.
Live downed power line between the "garage" and I.

P.s. What are we doing THIS weekend? This is the weekend we're supposed to Get Away From It All and... go... camping.
You might find me instead hugging and nestled into my off grid prefab house.


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