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Passive Solar Off Grid House Considers Our Sense Of Belonging.

Ahhhhh, fall. Even with mild weather, the scent of wood smoke scents the air. It saddens me, because it reminds me how so many, many rural homes are so poorly insulated, so poorly built... the people who need energy efficient green building the most don't have access to it.

In our off grid prefab, built with structural insulated panels, a passive solar design... with temperatures falling into the 40s and rising into the 60s... we wouldn't even think of turning on heat. That's not meant to be a smug statement on the superiority of our green building. It is a frustration, seeing so, so many people with windows taped up with cardboard and blankets, you can literally see the crevices and exposed tar paper where the wind whistles through... If they were new homes they would be condemned... I'm guessing they're not condemned because 'round here they know these people would have nowhere to go, and at least their shelter has a *little* shelter than
nothing. It makes me so sad.

We drove about this week, enjoying a glorious weekend, but as we passed through Appomattox, through Lynchburg, Bedford... each time I caught a whiff of smoke in these mild temperatures, even with the beauty of the leaves turning, even with the gorgeous day, I reflected, I wished those families comfort from winter's approach.

In our own family, we have news.
When I first met Handsome Husband, I knew he was from another country, yes- I mean, have you heard his **accent?!?**

(Seriously, y'allI, being Virginian, have no accent you may have noticed... in the video below, last year, my friend M. and I sing a popular ballad that showcases how we have NO ACCENT AT ALL.)

Oh. Gracious. I guess we really were full o' holiday cheer that day, so uhm... nevermind.
I swear I was not lookin' at those Hee Haw lyrics! (Ok you caught me...)

Ok back to culture:
When we married, I knew Handsome Husband had given up everything to be with me.
Why would I expect him to give up his country?

Y'all, we always considered ourselves World Citizens, living in (on his side) Hamburg, Denver, Charlottesville, and I in Richmond, New York, Paris (and when I worked in NYC, I traveled all over, working in international affairs...)...

Years passed.
And now we are Of Pamplin Cit-tay, Population 199.
Really, the big change came when we moved to the off grid prefab.
As I was explaining to my Amish friend yesterday,

"When we moved here he said he realized that this was his land, these are his people, this is his community... and that he wanted to recognize that, to truly be 'of here.'"

On Thursday Handsome Husband took his citizenship test and scored 100%.

It is a lot more emotional than if you have never thought of it, always being a citizen, than you might think. It's as special as a wedding. We have done a lot of talking and reflecting and joyous tears.

So, in 24hrs Handsome Husband went from Richmond to DC to Richmond to Norfolk (to take the test) to Deltaville (to check on the Ramshackle and neighbors) to Pamplin.

But when he got home... we were waiting!!!
It's funny- he arrived and the dogs RUSHED HIM whining and yelping and wagging and hugging him and we looked at each other and said, 
"Y'know, we could never even have these dogs in Germany!"
Tiny, trying again to fit into another modern chair...
We like our life, here. 
We also believe animals react to their environment, their owner, and how they are treated. Our dogs herd chickens and childrenz and are bossed by a 15 year old ornery cat. We appreciate the freedom we have to choose what animals are in our family while carefully weighing the responsibility of good pet ownership. These "dangerous breed dogs" deemed by Germany of ours keep our children warm at night, and when they wake they have a snuggle party, daily. Baby chicks crawl upon and under our canines.

So this week's thoughts are on place, and belonging.
Where is your sense of place?

My Amish friend and I continued talking. (When we get together, we talk... People keep pulling up to buy things, I step aside and say to them, "You go ahead, I can wait..." and then when they leave L. & I keep tallllllllking. It's our Friday Thing we do... : )  )

Anyhoo, L. and her husband had traveled to Indiana this week for a nephew's wedding.
"Amish families had moved to X, Virginia, near West Virginia, but the english didn't like us buying their land. They thought we would 'change' things. So those families picked up and moved to Indiana."

(In case you don't know, Amish call non-Amish 'english.')
"Well," I huffed, "rural areas NEED Amish *and* tech people like I. WE'RE the ones saving and preserving their farms, we're the ones who are interested and invested in keeping those areas 'as is' and not developed. Who are they kidding? They have no children who want to stay, our families do! So yes things are going to 'change,' but if we invest there, we help it stay 'the same.' Sheesh. All their jobs are gone, whereas the Amish jobs are on each farm, self sustaining, and we technology people telecommute, earning 'city' dollars that are then spent in the rural community!"

Tech and Amish families create jobs.
Another Virginia county recognizes,
"Amish families from across the country have settled in Giles County, opening more than a dozen businesses and contributing to the overall economy."
These jobs might be on our own farms; I telecommute and L. has her Amish stand on her farm. But we bring money IN, without driving land prices higher.


Back to Handsome Husband With Ze Accent: For those of you thinking you can just go marry someone from Europe and they become a citizen, here's a nugget of wisdom fer ya:
Just because they're now a citizen of the grand ole USA, doesn't mean they're going to suddenly have good taste in music. 
Sadly, that is a trait that remains cemented: his love of bad (really bad) techno.

I shut down that techno house Euro whatever and put on Dolly Parton.
Into the car we piled, and we drove.

We appreciate the light of a clear blue morning.
This week we drove past Bedford, and hiked Peaks of Otter.
We had city friends visit. I made 'em muck the stalls. And stuff.
And in this beautiful weather, we rode. We miss greatly our friend and trainer C. who is recovering after an operation. But in the meantime, I have a new trainer... ; )
(As much as I love my ten year old playing in the round pen... I can't wait to see C.!!!!!!)

I hope you all have a great week.




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