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4/29/12

More Packing For The Move To Our Prefab Home, With More History Adventures, And Color.

In a week we return to our prefab home construction, finally finishing the prefab house this spring.
Ah, but there's always other projects to do once this is complete... Lessee: The natural pool, fencing, chicken protecting projects immediately come to mind...

Although the prefab home could have been finished quickly, our family opted to approach it as a pay-as-you-go project, living in the mid-century house while saving up, paying for, and completing each stage. But now we sell the mid-century house, and the summer will be spent finishing FINALLY the interior walls, connecting the solar hot water (which is happening now), etc....


[Pictures of the prefab home from last week.]

But for now, we continue to pack.

The months of negotiating the sale of our mid-century modern in the city, of, with the sale of the mid-century house, purchasing the In-Town Ramshackle Farm House in Deltaville, and to FINALLY begin the FINAL phases of finishing our prefab home, our passive solar off grid modern house outside of Appomattox... well...
We are run down.

We are stressed, no, we are frantic. Each week we pack, each weekend we haul out another trailer of belongings, all while being under construction, all while working and meeting professional deadlines, all while being a parent... and in the cold, damp spring, all while enduring colds!

Even haggard we might be.

So when I saw that Henricus Historical Park was commemorating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Henricus, our nation's second permanent settlement in 1611, with re-enactor colonists and real native Americans portraying their history, when I saw that Captain Mike Ostrander (whom I think is SO cool and have admired from afar for awhile) of Discover The James tours was captaining a boat for a tour of the James River's history and wildlife, well, SIGN US UP, honeychile!
Saturday, April 28, 2012 (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.)
Pocahontas, Rocke Hall and the Powhatan People
Explore the life of Pocahontas at Henricus where she converted to Christianity by Rev. Alexander Whitaker at his Rocke Hall home. Experience the life, events and culture of the Powhatan Indian community of Arrohateck during the colonial first contact period around 1613. A demonstration of Revolutionary War history will take place on the bluff to commemorate the April raid by King's forces that destroyed the Virginia State Navy.

Participate in history and conservation tours on the Discovery Barge II!

Visitors to Henricus Historical Park in 2012 are encouraged to participate in history and conservation tours on the Discovery Barge II, a covered 24-foot boat captained by Mike Ostrander of Discover the James, an established provider of educational eco-tours and fishing trips. Excursions will feature local wildlife and 17th-century through modern day history at Henricus and Dutch Gap. Participants will step back in time and explore the habitats of native bald eagles and listen to stories of 12-foot sturgeon fish among other fascinating aspects of the James River.

All tours taking place during special events at Henricus will explore nature and history related to the themed event.


It was AMAZING. First we did the boat tour and saw bald eagles and osprey while hearing all about the Powhatan Indians of Arrohateck as the English settled, skipped into whatever period of history as questions arose regarding the landscape we passed... Then we walked through the settlement and Indian exhibit... learning and also recognizing things we still use today-
"Hey, look! An earth oven!!!
I've been wanting to build one of those for three years!"

HEY! Even those ospreys gotz themz some SOLAR PANELS!
Solar panel osprey nest!

Then we returned to the mid-century modern house.
Back to packing.
Wellllll, except for the hens, who were busy helping our garden...


Reading Club
Guard Puppy.
Green is not just LEED, y'all.

I know this late entrance of the Ramshackle INefficient In-Town Farm House is confusing. But I've been in Deltaville my entire life; now, for generations. Pamplin and Deltaville have a lot in common- a strong community, where friendships often span generations. This here, is Deltaville:

In 1929.
[Tony thinks this is our house, here, at :57 :]

HOW DO YOU THINK WE BECAME PIRATES?!?
Deltaville.


After the tornado hit last year, I felt closer to Deltaville than ever.

[The tornado missed the Ramshackle In-Town Farm House by a mere fifty feet, by the way...]

With the Ramshackle In-Town Farm House we ensure that more generations will continue sailing, pirating and banditing.

Farm House Fashion, LOL.
Our friend Tony is busy Dodging Hessian Specters & Battling Stachybotrys Chartarum at the In-Town Ramshackle Non-Efficient Farm House.

Colors that influence me for the In-Town Ramshackle Farm House: I am inspired by decay, freshened.
Anthony Caprara (realtor design dude and good friend) and I discussed the following ideas:

Who does freshened decay better than Paris?
A collection of Parisian colors that work well with any Decrepit Dinge:
From Apartment Ideas From Paris
I like the light blue of this room next to white.
From My Modern Met
I love this picture! The blue in her dress, the Biedermier green that Anthony loves, the white... I just want to make sure colors are CRISP and FRESH but careful to not be powdery...

ORANGE and white! Anthony wants to do bright orange in the bath room, and after seeing its dingy beginning, I say YES, YES, YES!
From House Design Decorating
Love the yellow.
Yellow wall in Paris
 ...State-side, Williamsburg, of course, is well versed in Decrepit Dinge...
Colonial Williamsburg paint colors


AND Latin America...
Columbia
Don't forget Dorthy Draper, and The Greenbrier. Neither did Decrepit Dinge but certainly embrace fresh color.
Note the touches of light blue, coral & pink, and green...
Always, with touches of coral and pink...
From earlier visits, some of my pictures:



Speaking of CORAL AND PINK!
From Katy Elliott
From Cindy's Salon
 Maybe we could do Pipsqueak #2's room in pink and coral! Then... came the wrench:
"MOMMA, I told you I want a Wildlife Room!!!!"
Pipsqueak #2 does not want pink. Or Williamsburg Blue, for that matter.
"I want WOLVES! I want DEER! I want to feel close to the land even when I'm not there."

Um, ok, how about a deer against, uh, Williamsburg Blue?
From Ebay
AND a wolf?
From Ebay

Meanwhile, I am roused from my Delusion of Grandeur:  
WHO ARE WE KIDDING. This is our reality:


WHO WANTS TO COME VISIT????

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4/22/12

Prefab Homes : Daylighting Despite Rain, Comfy With SIP, Our Prefab House Is HOME.

At the prefab : weather's changing...
...but we're smilin'.

Frantic moving and packing continues.
We had planned to go work on the Leaky 1800s In-Town Farm House, but after the long week Handsome Husband sighed:
"I miss the land..."
Ok baby. We'll go home.
So off it was to the Passive Solar Prefab Home!!!!!!!!
Finally, officially, now with the sale of the mid-century, this almost-finished-with-construction off grid prefab is finally HOME.

But wait! A Prefab Modern Homes Update!

Prefab modern homes. We've got 'em!
Green Modern Kits
Green Cabin Kits
and if ya like traditional,
Green Cottage Kits!

It is likely there will be a Dogtrot Mod prefab home from our other modern line of prefab house kits, Green Cabin Kits, in New Mexico this fall / winter!!!!! A savvy retired educator who... who WANTS to blog!!!! (ClapClapClapClap)

Pretty much I am the ONLY ONE who has taken (so far) to blogging our prefab homes' projects. So... I'm excited. She totally gets the reasons why I keep singing my passive solar prefab song out into the ether, why it's important for others, and I am looking forward to hearing her sing her own prefab's project story.  Stay tuned.

But back to MY Passive Solar Prefab Home ; )
Any-hoo...

What a week.
Thursday the movers came and took away pretty much everything from the mid-century modern.

We went from this...
...to this...
...The entire house EMPTY... in a day. 
I tried to navigate the work day on my trusty laptop, on whatever furniture, slowly dwindling by the hour, that was left... Neighbors pressed themselves against the glass as the moving truck was busy, staring at us like cows we pass by in the field...


We speed on to more vibrant things.

At the passive solar prefab home, we arrived to a GORGEOUS day.
Knowing the weather was changing; we made sure to enjoy every second outdoors. As driving rain would soon arrive, I eschewed planting seeds that might wash away and focused on shrubs and grape vines.

I also planted Chicken Helpers-- roses, quince, etc.- fruiting shrubs that offer protection.

I observed curious things.
Nature, as always, takes advantage...
Remember when Pipsqueak 1 had friends over and they Dug A Hole To China?
The Hole To China

I could not have planned this better: A miner bee colony now calls it home.
Fortuitous, as I planted fruit and berries and vines and vegetables and a field of grain around it...

I have been talking bee keeping for years, I just haven't had time to get equipment, and now I've got a colony of pollinating bees. Miner bees: No equipment needed. Pollination, complete.

And then came the rain.
Even as it rained, and rained, and RAINED... there was plenty of daylighting in the passive solar prefab home despite the dreary day. And we weren't dreary, we were COZY! It was a great excuse to relax and read.  It is so nice to have the pleasure of slowly unpacking because you can't do any chores outdoors, then, unpacked a bit, finding a quiet moment where one can curl up and read... Rainy days are blessings.


Mid-morning Sunday I opened a window and realized how much colder it was outside!
The passive solar prefab was so warm from the sun yesterday, we had no need for heat, and woke up warm... I just naturally threw open the window.  You forget, in a SIP house, how steady and easy the temperature is, even when, like this weekend, the outdoor weather swings in extremes.

Yesterday? A mix of sun and then a dramatic front cast clouds and covered the sky... From a high of  *80* degrees, the temperature waned, as the rain began... Today? Pelting rain, *50* degrees.

Through the windows, I watched the wind blow the trees; inside, a feather could drop straight, its path unaltered... I always love reminders of the energy efficiency of the SIP (structural insulated panels)...

And even on a dreary, chilly day filled with rain, the daylighting provided plenty of indoor light!


[Sorry, Tony!]
Watching the rain, I considered The Drafty 1800s In-Town Farm House.
Our friend Tony is there, scraping wallpaper.
I am glad I left him super-warm down comforters... I imagine the drafts and chill the poor guy certainly must have felt (sorry, Tony!)...

The rain picked up, a steady, driving patter, and I am grateful Tony is there because (sorry, Tony!) it is an opportune rain to discover any leaks or wet areas to fix.  Ah, a leaky 1800s farm house...  and from the cozy prefab home on a rainy day I think, "I really love SIP."

And Then: We Headed Back To The Empty Mid-Century
Now, when the puppy barks or we speak, there's a cavernous echo in this house!
We'll spend the next 2 weeks trucking final items to the appropriate locations...

Oh those bothersome outdated people.
Why be there, when you could be here? : )

The Vanderspiegels, the neighbors who made us give up OUR hens last year, arrived as a sad, hen-cited family returned from borrowing our trailer to move their coop. I looked at the daughter, nodded towards them as they unpacked their Costco trip from the car and empathized, "Well, they took our hens away too."

I watched a beautiful little girl fill with indignation.
"But don't worry, sweetie," I assured, "ignorant people like that won't last long. I mean, think about it- Glenn and Catherine Vanderspiegel may have taken away our hens last year, but we've had new hens for months and months and months and they're too slow to notice! Silly people like that will soon fade away."

The Vanderspiegels froze, mid-lift of their hefty Costco Frozen Food take, paused on their Tru-Green Green-y (Perfectly Poisoned) Lawn. TM.

Who wants to bet that as soon as we turned, they ran to the fence and stood on tippy toes, necks craning, to see if they could find Evidence Of Hens.  [Who are, as always, in plain sight and happy in our clover, fruit, year-round-vegetable growin' and roses now-bloomin' back yard.]

Go Ahead, Outdated Zoning, Cite Us.
You will never again harm our family.
We are paid in full, mortgage free, with the world open to us.
I might just have one more shot just for old times... one last call for zoning clarity...

[R.I.P. Levon Helm]

I quote the respected, well-known-for-her-community-enhancement-and-service director of marketing for a beloved RVA non-profit, who used my trailer to sadly move her hens:
"A year ago we decided we wanted chickens, nine months ago we (well, G.) started building our coop, seven months ago we brought our three hens home. One month ago Animal Control responded to a complaint from an unidentified neighbor; today they gave me 24 hours to remove our good birds. Not exactly that center of creativity and innovation you claim to be, Richmond."
First, they come for we green building zoning freaks. Then they come for families up for national sustainability awards (two weeks ago). 
Now, they come for the math professors and non-profit marketing directors.  
Sheesh.
FYI: Creative, contributing families flee outdated zoning, city officials... this may shock you, but for many job-attractive families with so many livable, cutting-edge places that are so close, so vibrant... those families don't have to take it.  I am noting the Sustainable Brain Drain.

We push off to the net zero, passive solar prefab home, now, finally, easily, untethered.
Happier, sustainable, livable pastures are right down the road.
Happy Earth Day, y'all: Net zero passive solar off grid living
is not as difficult as it seems.
And chicken friendly. #Sustainability101
It's not just about LEED.

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4/15/12

Passive Solar Prefab House Electric Resumes, In-Town Farm House Visit: Freedom, Confirmed.


It's official. The contract is final, our Richmond mid-century modern house is sold May 9th, finally we move to the passive solar prefab house, yet visit-ish-living-in DC, with an old Deltaville farm house on the other side of Vee-Ay.

On May 10th we are mortgage free and no longer penalized by outdated zoning, with a beloved off grid passive solar energy efficient home-turning-into-our-farm in our beloved community, Pamplin CIT-TAY, and a ramshackle beloved but NON energy efficient 1800s farmhouse in Deltaville to continue the generations-old summer tradition of fishing, crabbing, sailing...in both places we have dear, dear friends, GREAT community, and are eagerly planting food.


I am so thrilled to no longer have the shackles of outdated out-of-touch suburban mindsets nor financial debt for my family. Now we can enjoy our jobs (which we love) yet never fear their loss.
With chickunz, of course... ; )
Freedom.


See, there really IS something to be said for driving beat up cars, loving thrift, and approaching finance with an Amish mindset... we have never been more happy.
Oh, great. I just totally doomed myself to have a lethal heart attack today now, didn't I.

Thanks to Spring Break I was able to enjoy a mid-week visit to the passive solar prefab house, with children and nephew in tow.

#LeakyInefficientRottingFarmHouseInTown
I know. It doesn't make any sense.
But I see this as important.
Seasonal living, incorporating permaculture.
And don't forget we're third generation of caring
about things, here.
Sometimes you can't let things go, and if
serendipity smiles, you go with it.


But the weekend (and next) are spent hurriedly hauling furniture from the mid-century house to the 1800s Farm House. If you think this is confusing for you, consider how exhausting it is for me. 
But once everything is set up, it will be set up for a lifetime. 
Let The Move Begin. 

Johnny Appleseed, and My Gardening Nonchalance
I explained to visiting friends my nonchalant gardening. "I have traditional areas, yes, but always, I sow seed. Any seed left over, anything I pick off the rye or mustard greens or whatever, I deliberately resow in new areas, brushing soil over, as I walk... It is heartening to see, even without An Official Food Plot Garden on the land yet, that I can see parsnips and creases and lots of edible things establishing themselves, from when I just sowed extra stuff, walking... even without an Established Bed, I can eat."
Johnny Appleseed I T'Ain't.
But I *DO* know to plant
potatoes...


It made me think about Johnny Appleseed... when was the last time we heard about he? Why DID our nation celebrate him so? Why did he go down in folklore and formal history? Have we forgotten, in our Costco-ization, the importance of sowing/ establishing food, just to sow

Do we remember the days when food - fruit trees - added value to land? Even in urban back yards?
"Johnny Appleseed (September 26, 1774 – March 18, 1845), born John Chapman, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He became an American legend while still alive, largely because of his kind and generous ways, his great leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples."
The first thing I did on Day One Of The In-Town Farm House after unloading was plant.
I can't even find a shovel. If I have to dig this place out with my fingernails, I will. IT'S APRIL 14th, PEOPLE! End of season, beginning of the next, and I've got... YARD! 

We spent the day planting the basics- more (late) potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cukes, herbs...
Well, maybe not EVERYONE worked so hard...

The next morning, I decided to take a hike to the coffee shop.  I had patronized it occasionally over the years, but always from my parent's cottage on Fishing Bay Road.  Now, in-town, I knew in which direction it was, and, happy for the walk, began my journey, and meandered the gravel road to Main Street.

Once on Main Street, the coffee shop is...two... houses... down.
Handsome Husband: "This could be any amazing town in Europe."

So, while Pamplin, and our passive solar off grid house is HOME, here, we feel visitors' vacation energy / vibes while appreciating three generations of friendships here, near the water, investing in this community instead of just passing through like we would on any other vacation.

Book club: 
The Non-Joie Of Parenting
Current sports include building a rickety ramp,
then waiting on your bike at the top
of the hill for your dogs to stop rolling
in front of the ramp.

As we have spent our parenting years busy on the land, we too have seen the difference between our disorganized chaotic yet fun and educational lifestyle vs. friends who shuttle-pta-talent-night-do-the-overscheduled-hustle through their lives. 
I'll take the wine play dates with no Saturday soccer games, please.

If my child WANTS to do a sport for a semester, I'd try it, but they'd have to realize it takes away from our weekends, which impacts the entire family. On the weekends we're BUSY! Exploring history, playing, having dinner with friends... looking back on my blog I see how much of that we never would have done (all of it!) if we were obligated to a sport that played on the weekends. I could get a team that played games on a Thursday... but teams don't do that, do they. The weekend? That time is for us.

Regarding school, the article is DEAD ON regarding the approach in the United States...

Oh, and then...
This happened...

Cities: Stop Criminalizing Sustainable Families With Your OUTDATED ZONING.


And then! A Game of Chicken: Will Richmond *Finally* Allow Backyard Hens?

Passing around their back yard hens,
with laughter.
Chickens are seriously silly.
And then?!?
Conservative Radio picked it up
.

Their Question Of The Day:
SHOULD YOU BE ABLE TO HAVE CHICKENS IN A METRO RICHMOND RESIDENTIAL AREA?

Yes. My home, my castle!

53.55 %
If the neighbors are OK with it, why not?

19.13 %
Only if you have a large property.

No. If you want chickens, move out to the country!

19.13 %

Now I'm not great at math, so I'm not going to tally the In Favor votes. So... only 19%ish is against it?!? On super conservative WRVA??? Well. If *I* were a politician, I'd jump on that platform!!!!
(pause pause pause pause pause)
Well, we... shall... see.

Johnny Appleseed, Soured By Zoning:
How To Make Vinegar Out Of Leftover (Leftover?)
Yes, Leftover Wine.


When you start to feel sour over unproductive outdated ignorant zoning... 
make some yummy vinegar.

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4/8/12

Expected And Unexpected Guests. The Passive Solar Prefab House Heads Through Spring.


Not much happened in terms of passive solar off grid prefab house progress- next week electric resumes, but for now? Friends visited from Germany, and at Higher Ground, we worked on off grid solar fencing. And the chicken pen. And planted a HECK of a lot more of later-than-we-would-like potatoes.



Expected Guests
So our friends came all the way from Germany, and without apologies, this is what I served a visiting German judge and corporate lawyer guests for dinner.
Frito Pie. Ohhhh, yes.
From http://pinterest.com/pin/62487513549896109/
Okkkay, I organic-ized it, but still... You want "American-a" when you come here? You gotz it.

I made it up to them by serving this pasta alfresco the next day, with the spring garden in glorious bloom...

You might remember our guests' visit last year - a visiting European Judge and Corporate Lawyer who specifically requested, on their vacation, to attend the Businesses For Chickunz Breakfast... They were fascinated by the issue: "We Vould Never Dee-ny A Basic Food Right, Are You Not Ze Land Of Ze Free?"

What. YOU LOOKIN' AT *ME?*

As lawyers interested in the legality issue that is bequeathed most elsewhere, bemused, they asked again, a year later:
"And Vhat is Richmond doing to chickenzzzz now?"
#ShameOnYourZoningRVA

But good news! Good news! This year, Richmond city finally turned a corner, and during their visit!
We were even able to pop champagne.And joked that, returning to Europe, their friends would ask,
"And what did you see on your vacation?"
And the judge and lawyer would answer, "Zoning."

Consider forwarding your officials today's Times-Dispatch editorial discussing Richmond's Food Policy Task Force-

"...Letting residents keep a couple of chickens in the backyard is also reasonable."  

And the next day? 
Raising CHICKUNZ in Richmond is top topic :


AND THEN?
Richmond's Food Security Council and CHICKUNZ on WRIR's Open Source!
[Happy *Birthday!* Open Source! We love WRIR!]
Subjects also include the Slave Trail & Art 180, topics of great interest!
Our segment starts at 35:50. : ) ]

[I'd really rather be talkin' architecture than
having to stump for some hens...]

Finally! Now I can go back to talkin' design & architecture! 
We still have work to do to help everyone, regionally, but finally, Richmond City got it.

[We're not re-inventing the wheel; just trying to catch up to sustainable zoning every other city has already embraced.]

After the weekdays with European guests, they departed onward, and we embraced a glorious spring Virginia weekend at the passive solar modern prefab house.

We biked and hiked the High Bridge Trail... the first weekend the bridge opened!


Then we headed to lunch, and fueled, laid out ideas for fencing... see, when we arrive more permanently, soon, we will also be moving six urban chickens, a feral cat, and an old, old getting-alzheimer's-ish dog. A discreet electric fence will help keep them safe, combined with a strong pen for the hens, for when we're away- so they can access grass and soil without being eaten. Hopefully. At least that's the idea.

We placed fence posts, the puppy tried to place us...
Forget it, kiddo.

The Unexpected Guest
We encountered an Elegant Lass.
In fact, WE have a stranger in our midst.
At first, we assumed she was Of The Neighbor S's.  Knowingly, we ignored her, hard.

But her posturing, and extremely pleasing-us genteel manners led us to wonder, as dusk led to dark, as she lay down outside our glass door, leaning against it, as we continued to steadfastly IGNORE her, then knowing any dog worth salt KNEW the coyotes were already agitated now, early in the low, full moon...

She curled up, back against OUR shelter, facing the wild...
I regarded her resolute curl against the door frame with infinite blackness surrounding her, still dainty, extremely polite... and that's when I wondered, "Well, wait a minute. She is pure black, which leads me to think she might be a purebred someone is missing. She is certainly an outdoor working dog. She's GREAT with children and dogs... so mannered, without residential manners... Maybe she's not Of The Neighbor S's. "

She was clearly A Lady Without Options.
And so the door to the passive solar prefab house opened, and she gratefully entered within.


And that's how Easter Weekend started.

Copeland's Thank Goodness It's Spring Pasta For A Crowd

Ideally it would be with my first garden peas and mint, but my mint never died back this winter and my peas have not yet sprung!
  • Linguine (I used 2 boxes, I have guests to feed)
  • Garlic, minced, 3-4ish cloves
  • 2 diced 1/2" Onions
  • Lots of fresh Mint, shredded
  • Peas (I used 1 medium bag as I had no fresh)
  • Lemon juice
  • Ricotta
  • Parmesean
  • Salt & Pepper
Heat water in a pot for pasta. In another pan, sautee garlic & onions in olive oil.  If using frozen peas, add them when the onions are soft -> getting brown on the edges; if using fresh, add them just a few minutes before you want to add everything else. Add pasta to water, cook al dente WHILE...:
Turn onions / garlic / peas often so they mix well... Everything else:  Turn off the heat. By now I hope you've had a glass of wine so you are Not Afraid Of The Lemon. Glug that stuff in. It's spring! You're adding pasta! And ricotta! It will be more delicate than you think! Glug! Ok. Now fold in at least half of the ricotta. Sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. Add some parmesan. Now add the pasta and you better not have overcooked it! Now add in the mint, more parmesan, a little more ricotta if it doesn't seem nice & cheesy enough (What. Like I'm supposed to know how much pasta you used.), more pepper.

Serve immediately, garnished with a mint leaf.
Go out in the garden and eat, admiring the lilacs, fruit trees, and azaleas in bloom.


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