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Prefab Home Off Grid Construction Continues; Passive Solar Keeps Us Comfortable And... Joy, Grief.

Prefab home with coop and...
who put a TARGET on that coop?!?

Electrical and plumbing work for the solar hot water system in the prefab home progresses! Thank goodness, because I'm heading into Week 4 of no hot water as we "camp" in the off grid passive solar prefab home.

The solar loop has been charged with a glycol/water mix. The evacuated tubes are ready to be installed as soon as the solar differential controller installation has been completed.

The septic people informed us they would be here...
in July.  And everyone else??? Still trying to track down and herd them over to the passive solar prefab.
Welcome to rural USA.

However, each day's construction frustrations still outweigh any of the "best" times we ever had in our old place...
We are so, SO grateful to be here.

THANKFULLY, we have The In-Town Ramshackle to flee to (which we will now do, now that school and  camps are over) so that no one gets mad at us for camping near the Almost Finished Prefab Home.  You see, The In-Town Ramshackle has a certificate of occupancy.

Here are some recent pictures of The In-Town Ramshackle.
With a certificate of occupancy:

So while "construction" is finished at the passive solar, energy efficient, comfortable, clean, modern prefab home, I will officially reside at The In-Town Ramshackle, because why have this:
Energy efficient passive solar prefab home
*without* a C.O.
Boy does it look comfy!
Wish I could live here... in the meantime... we camp!

Yep, why endure THOSE DIRE CONDITIONS in the off grid prefab home when you can live in THIS has-a-certificate-of-occupancy-yet-is-totally-run-down-unEnergyEfficient-disaster:
THIS has a C.O.


Anyhoo, each day here, despite no hot water or whatnot, brings another Best Day Ever.
: ) Today? Another unplanned invitation: Lunch? Sure! Riding? Absolutely!

I made homemade guacamole, and my Very Special Cucumber Sandwiches to contribute to our al fresco lunch.

Aren't they pretty?

We arrived, I unloaded the tote bag with platters, chips, guacamole, extra cucumber spread and bread, got settled, then, absentmindedly,
"Where are the cucumber sandwiches?!?"

Suddenly, with shocking clarity, I envisioned:
The beautiful platter of tasty, summery, cucumber sandwiches... left behind on the dining table!
Fired, again.

A platter of cucumber sandwiches + Big. Dorky. Puppy.

I peeled out of the driveway and RACED into the prefab house just in time to...
...catch the puppy, gawky huge paws on my pristine white modern dining table, jaws open, scooping and slurping and slobbering up the last two cucumber sandwiches.

No, I did not take pictures of my next moments, shrieking, big puppy flailing / trying to make off with the last two sandwiches....

What can you do. I patted my hair back into place, cleared my throat, and calmly, very calmly, returned to our neighbors, asked quietly for a cutting board, a sharp knife, and out of the bag pulled out the *extra* bread, *extra* spread, and *extra* cucumbers, and began assembling sandwiches, again.

We ate, and then... we rode.

In case you are wondering, YES we will be careening to and fro this summer with the whole household: Six chickens, three dogs, two children, and one yowling, yowling feral cat.

Forget The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants;
We're The Family Of The Traveling Hens, Jumbled Dogs, Childrenz and Feral Cats.

A Personal Note: Grief.
We lost a dear little friend this weekend. He began bravely fighting cancer at the age of nine; four times in these four years he fought... and from the playground, where we saw each other every day in the German School, we families and children fought with him. All our prayers and love to a family now returned to Germany, and for all dear friends in the German School, through this terrible loss. We grieve. He is free.

When a child fights cancer, you steel yourself to only think of the fight. It's like if you allow yourself to think of the other side, it will cast fate to turn from his favor.  But by the end, all that fighting, fighting... he is now quiet.

A. called to tell us. After the call, the crying, the... everything, I just stood at the kitchen counter, staring at a cabbage our friend S. had just picked from her garden... for hours. I had planned to make sauerkraut but could not stop thinking of Paul, all the moments of Paul on the playground, how Paul was so great at soccer... How when he lost, through the cutting surgeries, much mobility of his arm, his leg... yet the smiles and emotional struggle to come to terms with he was no longer an athlete, then ok, then the regrowth of that red hair... all the ups and downs... all of us running together in a race to honor him, and how he many sweet, sweet moments with the bitter.

Paul's Coleslaw
Just picked head of tender cabbage, shredded
1-2 carrots, as sweet & fresh as possible, shredded
Dashes of sugar
Dashes of rice vinegar
2-3 tsp. pureed ginger (to your taste)
Smaller dashes of kosher salt, tamari... pumpkin or sesame oil if you like, I always think of S., his mom, when using pumpkin.
Mix very well, let sit a day. Add just enough of sugar/vinegar/etc. to give it a sweet, gentle flavor, with just enough rice vinegar for tears and the pang of every moment.
Please bring it to serve at a soccer game...

Solar Cooked Beets
Cook beets, whole, in the solar cooker until tender. Slip off skins, dice small.
Sprinkle with fresh dill and a few dashes of vinegar- just enough so you can still taste the earthy beets, not be overwhelmed by vinegar.

P.s. You *can* overcook things in the solar cooker.
Check out my "These Will Be Delicious Beet Greens To Serve With Steak Tonight":
After weeks of clouds, heat returns to Virginia. 
Our battery bank / solar system is humming again after minor adjustments, and, with final construction resuming on the passive solar prefab home, we remove ourselves from camping to respectfully inhabiting the very rough, in-efficient In-Town Ramshackle. 

Stay tuned...

[R.I.P Paul. We love you and your family very, very much.]

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At 9/6/12, 1:13 PM , Anonymous Von@Cosmetic Dentist Honolulu said...

I'm pretty amazed at your usage of solar power. How is it working out for you?

At 9/6/12, 5:32 PM , Blogger Passive Solar Prefab Homes said...

It is working for us, but we were always aware of how minimally we were sizing it- but then again think: laptop, lights, a pump occasionally... and it's a good lesson in always being aware of how much power we use... so up until now it's working fine, but here comes winter and we'll really test it, finally out there full time, then!

At 10/31/12, 5:23 PM , Anonymous Tom@Foodsaver Bags said...

Amazing what you've done with this home--it's come a long way. Thanks for all the inspiration and great pictures!


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