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8/25/14

Dragging Our Heels Towards Fall

Regarding prefab house kits, we are still awaiting permitting approval for the modern prefab house in California, with several serious quotes in progress for prefab houses on the east *and* west coasts...

But WE are still on the bay, at the In-Town Ramshackle, sucking out every last morsel of summer before we head home to the off grid prefab house.
The Ramshackle.
I am spending these last summer weeks canning up a storm.
Someone asked me if I was a prepper.
Nooooooooooo...
"I don't believe in negative aspects of being labeled a "prepper"...
But I'm totally ready for the zombie apocalypse!" ; )
I thought of all my friends who, like I, just love to be fiscally responsible, independent, love to cook and garden, know that physical labor beats a gym, prefer to be self-sufficient as much as possible for FUN and COMMUNITY and PRACTICALITY and that putting up sun-ripened heady bounty tastes sooooooooooo much better than anything you could ever buy in a store.

In the kitchen, I hurry, because soon canning season ends. 
I cherish each tomato, cucumber, cutshaw, the overflow of basil waiting to be picked...

As summer wanes, I taste its close sadly, yet savor the approaching fall and winter- back to horses, brunswick stew, brisk walks, and long days cozy in the prefab with miles of snow and nowhere to go 'cept sledding.
Nowhere to go, because thanks to summer work, planning and "prepping," ha, when winter arrives, our pantry is FULL.

Enjoy Summer, As It Ebbs
Below, instead of tying a typical sailor's bowline when the Pipsqueaks asked me to secure their raft, I absentmindedly tied a Quick Release Knot, used to keep horses safe- and then nostalgically left a big ole bowline-ish loop on the end.
We are tied to this area in summer, for not only is the tradition generations old, but here this bayside point is overrun with children. Children of children with whom *I* grew up
Fighting Photobomb!
While the youngerz play captain,
the elderz are combating for control of the raft.
Just like cousins,
fighting for the raft like cousins.
Homeschool:
What I love about home school is the ability to explore... In summer, I just say, "Do a little science, do a little math, history, grammar... Just do a little something, each morning..." It gives them a jump on their curriculum, with their choosing what interests them that day.... Getting ahead on the grade also allows for lots of creativity and a more relaxed school year!

Today I discovered Pip 2 poring over about 30 browser tabs of math. "I just want to look at it all, to see if I know it..." And that, for her, is fun. This was the child once put into summer school for math! You go, girl! She is The Boss Of Math, now!
FYI for *our* family, in going over DiscoveryEducation.com's TechBooks I think that for the next year I will *combine* Time4Learning and the TechBooks + SOLpass.org for review. Plus all our creative weird tangents + messy workbooks. And the occasional Coursera class. Just in case you wonder. : )
Dog days.
We will miss this peninsula filled with roaming childrenz.
Childrenz, in a pack, tackling each other...
In the meantime, check out Black Naked Wing's latest:

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8/18/14

Ruminating On Restoration In The 150 Year Old House

As always, I awake with the chickens...

But instead of tossing out yesterday's coffee grounds out the front door, into the herbs,  while hearing the clip clop clip clop of Amish buggies trotting on the ridge, today I hear the steady growling of a deadrise heading out into the bay. It rumbles, purrs, oscillates steady, comforting even as it fades, into the waters beyond.
Yes, we are back on the bay.


I joke about going from "Brunswick stew and venison... to crabs!" but... they are both home.
So we are back at the In-Town Ramshackle, the leaky inefficient but beloved 150 year old house on the bay.
Whether here
or there
they always find snakes...
And being back, we think again about how to further save this old home.
From Handsome Husband:
"OK, so the problem we have is that our crawlspace is moist, creating mold, and therefore the objective is to remove the moisture.

Normally what you do (and what we have done on our old mid-century house, before we moved to the off grid prefab house, with immediate success) is to lay down thick plastic tarp on the dirt floor of the crawl space, essentially trapping the moisture under the tarp. I remember seeing heavy condensation drops under the translucent tarp shortly after we laid it down...

In the case of our old Richmond house there was groundwater close to the surface (which is why the peach tree grew like crazy on the patio in the old house). It would have been prohibitive to redirect the water so we treated the symptom, not the cause. We may find that we need to do the same on The In-Town Ramshackle, rather than re-grading the entire area around the house we just prevent the moisture from coming into the house (via the crawl space).

Ideally what one wants to do is isolate the crawlspace from the exterior air and temperature by sealing the foundation walls air tight and installing rigid foam insulation against the interior of the foundation walls (think "SIPs"). We will have to see whether we have that option because we don't have foundation walls. Our foundation is pilings driven into the ground... We can either frame out foundation walls and install the foam board or install a permanent dehumidifying system. I favor the former as it incurs lower (no) cost of ownership.

To do all of this we have to remove the wood floor on the first floor. This has the added benefit of being able to repair any rotten joists. When we are done we need to consider whether we reinstall wood flooring or go with carpet/vinyl tile. I favor the latter because if/when we have to access the crawl space again it will be much easier and less expensive (plus the existing wood floor is not original) but we can discuss.

Anyway, the path forward is now clear to me and the trick is to have this done at the lowest cost possible...
Bright side: I KNOW we can turn The In-Town Ramshackle into a healthy home."
You can read more technical aspects of this, here.

It may be mid-August, but already the nights are cooler. We awake with goosebumps, until the sun burns again high and hot, and water time arrives. Soon it will be time to return home, to the off grid modern prefab house, until next year.
In the meantime, let's eat.
Tomato Pie
Make dough: Make a mound of flour, about how much you think will cover the pie tin. Into it fluff while stirring in with a fork salt and a liberal amount of pepper, then enough bacon grease to make the mixture grainy in a very dry way. To that, add enough icy cold water from the fridge, working it slowly in, until it is a nice elastic dough. Either roll it with a rolling pin or be lazy like I and treat it as people do with pizza dough- smoothing and flipping and working it out into a circle until you can place it over the pie tin and work it up the sides.
Layers: Line the dough with homemade or Duke's mayo. Not a layer; just kind of seal it, then add the freshest tomatoes, sliced, on the bottom *and* sides. Then sharp grated cheddar; fresh chopped basil; salt and pepper, a smattering of minced onion. Layer more tomatoes, cheese, basil, onion, finally topping with cheese, basil, and *dot* it with mayonnaise.
Cook at 350 until bubbling and done-crust is golden- remove the foil at the end so it lightly browns.

Grape Jam
Cook grapes whole, stirring constantly, until a big purple juicy mushed mess. Cool. Pour into a food mill or colander and push through back into the pot (wash pot first to get out any debris), leaving skin and seeds behind. Heat again, add sugar until it is sweet to your taste (I like jam slightly tart), simmer until it thickens (you can test with a cold spoon put in the freezer to see when it is ready), add pectin if you want, stir around, then can. Note: Do not use store bought grapes, it will never taste like the perfumed deliciousness of wild / old grapevines.

Reading Club:"...In withdrawing the permit, the judge was convinced by the scientific evidence presented about the threats posed by GM soy crops to honey production in the Yucatán peninsula, which includes Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatán states. Co-existence between honey production and GM soybeans is not possible, the judge ruled.

Mexico is the world’s six biggest producer and third largest exporter of honey. About 25,000 families on the Yucatán peninsula depend on honey production. This tropical region produces about 40% of the country’s honey, almost all of which is exported to the EU." Read more here.

Homeschool:
After hearing teacher friends rave about Discovery Education's TechBook, I am sorely, SORELY disappointed to hear that Discovery Education does not plan to make its TechBooks available to homeschoolers. If you are a teacher, know that this company is not interested in making good education available for all.

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8/11/14

A Quiet Week At The Off Grid Prefab House

This week has been busy- I haven't gotten updated *exterior* photos of the prefab cabin house in the northeast so I am waiting for them to talk about that more, and we are also stepping forward with initial projects in Colorado, Utah, and still waiting on zoning to come back to us to determine whether the California modern prefab house, the R1 Residential, will happen.

I was so happy to be back home at our own off grid prefab.
Pip 1 & 2 had their annual Family Fest- three families coming together to play play PLAY- the girls busy with riding camp, the boys running loose and wild around the fields.

As I am settling in, I don't have much to say, except that the horses still love me, so I'm happy.

A friend brought her brother from Colorado to tour the off grid prefab house, I showed him around, explaining the passive solar architecture, off grid systems, my philosophy on raising hens...

Here's some pictures from this week.










And I hope y'all get to see the perigee moon- I did but my silly cell phone didn't do it justice.
Picture a HUGE red moon... it was beautiful.
Moon, super.

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