Let me open by saying, “Welcome to the new format.” Brought to you by popular demand, I have added a “Contact Us” link that will let folks write in with questions, advice, ridicule, or other drivel. We look forward to hearing from you and please let us know what you want to hear about this life journey. And now…back to our tale of construction complexities, pennilessness, and the joys of yet another cross planet move…
Riddle me this… You have 10 acres of north-to-south oriented forested land upon which you must build a solar-power driven establishment. You want to retain a privacy wall of trees about said property–perhaps a good 5 to 10 foot thick curtain of vegetation–but you want the sun to enter and leave your space in a way that maximizes exposure. The solar panels must be within 75 feet of your power use, but for privacy, you want your residence to be near the middle of the plot. What do you tell the bulldoze operator to knock down and what is a reasonable cost for such destruction? (I don’t recall any word problems in math quite like this when I was growing up; I feel ill prepared).
With the propitious passing of the vernal equinox, and a nod to my pagan Germanic ancestors, we continue to clarify various issues of road access, surveying, and back taxes while waiting for a settlement date to fall into place. Discussions with solar contractors, land clearers, and builders have advanced and we have begun to deliberate on a launch date–a date to pack the chariots and start toward the sunset. Meanwhile, the bride continued to refine yurt floor plans:
In another step toward hippiedom, the bride–while completing our tax return–also settled on a formula for all natural, homemade shampoo and conditioner. The great thing about this stuff is that the kids can request their own fragrance (from organic essential oils, of course). Peppermint and lemongrass seem to be favorites at this juncture. Between the homemade tallow balm, toothpaste, and shampoo, she is quickly developing the potential to become the Avon lady of the crunchy, off grid, sustainable lifestyle crowd.
Meanwhile, our recent vows of poverty in pursuit of a new life returned our thoughts this week to our never ending quest to improve upon the quality, and reduce the cost of, family entertainment. We cut cable years ago in favor of online streaming of movies, documentaries, and television shows, and we purchased a decent flat screen and surround sound system under the bonds of a family agreement to forgo movie theaters. Community theater, free local live music, and board games have been integral to our custom “package.”
Now, with less streaming capability through our poor-man’s internet (an iPhone hotspot detailed in a prior post), Red Box has reentered our lives. You just can’t beat a $1.20 new release movie for 6 people. Looking ahead, we also dusted off DVD collections of old television shows that we never quite finished and the kids will soon become better acquainted with the teachings of blind Master Po (Kung Fu, all three seasons), the leadership style of Jean-Luc Picard (1st season, New Generation), and the witticisms of a young Bill Cosby through the lens of the ever lovable Fat Albert (they just don’t make programs today with such ethical dilemmas and moral stories for the young mind). We rediscovered, too, the joys of the award winning game Settlers of Cataan and we dug out Munchkins (Take the gold and stab your buddy!). Let the games recommence!
Beyond the incessant and continued sorting, wrapping, and packing of our lives into small cardboard boxes that once housed assorted spirits, we spent some hours delving into the mysteries of man-portable thermoelectronic generators (amazing what they are coming up with these days), quick drying pack towels, and canteen place settings–just your typical homesteading gear, right? Oh…and the article that I submitted for publication last week….a lovely piece on maximizing the management of small-scale organic waste…it was accepted and will see print late this summer (at 10-cents a word and $5 per photograph, a much better rate than I was paid in my former life writing for Uncle Sam…now I just need to come up with more material). On top of that, another small piece that I had submitted to a different publication a few months ago graced the printed pages in this month’s issue (accompanied by a small check). Musings of the gentleman farmer may prove to be a useful, if infrequent, stream of pecuniary goodness.
On that note, as we move toward our first real land acquisition (versus mortgage acquisition), I’ll bid you adieu with some words on land ownership in America by the great traveling observer of these united states, in their infancy, Monsieur De Tocqueville.