Our Philosophy

Festina lente
-make haste...slowly

Thursday, April 27, 2017

All or Nothing?

They say there are two kinds of people in the world when it comes to solar - those who think solar will save the world, and those who have used it...

I officially hate the house-selling business.  The only good I get from it is that the house is generally cleaner, more often, than usual.  I'm also checking off lots of little nit-picky tasks that I wish I had done last year - threshholds, window trim, rainwater filtration...that one I should have done the day we installed the downspout.  I think it's fair to say that I'm spending a fair amount of time these days kicking my own ass for not getting to some of these things sooner.

Not that there wasn't a whole bunch of other stuff to do first, before I could get to most of this!  You get to it when you get to it.  There is an order to all things, especially building a house.  But psychologically, this whole full court press I've been running these days, knocking jobs out left and right, is like a vice grip on my peace of mind.  On the one side is the fact that my place looks better every week, making me love it more and not want to leave it.  And on the other side I'm beating myself up for not getting to some of these tasks sooner, and not having longer to enjoy the results.  Double whammy.

Aaaand a deep breath...Inhale...Exhale.  As my friend Stimpi says, "don't forget to breathe."  Good advice, Stimpi.  I have not been myself lately.

Trying to sell a property as off-grid and unique as this place has proven to be more difficult than I expected.  I know there are lots of people who would love to try something like this.  I hear from them all the time.  For that reason I think it would make a top-shelf AirBNB-type rental.  If I were in that hunt I would live in town where I could walk to necessary services, buy it (in my case keep it) as a 2nd home, enjoy the (literal) fruits of 5 years of my labor, practice living life more simply, in and out of town, all that, and then rent it out to vacation rental clients as fast as I could, every open date in between.

As it is I'm stuck living in a house that's on sale, that I'm not altogether sure I want to be on sale, that used to be a really private place to live when the summer started closing in, but which is now not very private at all, with all these strangers traipsing in and out of here.  And it's not as if some of the alt tech around here isn't fairly challenging to the average American to begin with!

So you have a composting toilet...like an Incinolet?

No, it's a simple sawdust toilet.

But you have a septic field, right?

No, we live on rainwater and mass compost all of our waste.  But if that doesn't work for you, there are other, more hands-free types of composting toilets that you could exchange it for.

What about a normal toilet?

Not without a well and septic, and the water is about 300' deep here. Solar power would be pretty tough to use for pulling water up from that depth.  It's not the right tech for that purpose.  There are other options, like using a generator to pump up a tankful, use, then repeat, which would pretty much take care of any algae problems as well, cycling through it like that regularly.  Our off-grid friends on the other side of the county do it that way, and never have any trouble.

Can we not connect to the grid?

Not without jumping through all the regulatory hoops required for a full building permit and C.O.

You don't have a C.O.?

No, see the county's stance on off-grid properties is to just stay out of it.  They don't issue permits for off-grid structures, and we don't ask for them.  (Me thinking this will be good news for potential off-griddies, but usually met with consternation, if not disapproval.)

This isn't a normal house, folks! Didn't you notice?  We went to some length to point out the rainwater catchment, the composting toilet facilities, the solar power equipment, the graywater distribution, the gardens, etc, etc.

You're here because you're interested in something like this, right?  Well this is it!  This is most of what you need to survive.  And it doesn't depend on much outside support either.

Isn't that a good thing??  Why are you looking for a well and septic? A grid connection?  A water-flushing toilet, for heaven's sake?  I thought you wanted to live off-grid.  Have you even heard of all these alternative technologies we listed in our ad?  Do you see all the established perennial food everywhere around you?  The shiitakes over there, and the 6 colors of plums over here, the grapes, the herbs, the apples, the berries, and the tea out front?  As far as I know that's the only established tea camellia patch in the county, maybe the region.  Not to mention most of the medicinals you'll ever need.

I'm not trying to sell you a water-flushing toilet.  Good grief.  That's the opposite of what I'm trying to sell you.  Water-flushing toilets are our culture's favorite magic trick - take something dirty, flush, wow, it's gone! Just like magic! - and they are one of the most irresponsible technologies we've ever deployed en mass. Up there with cars probably.  There is nothing technically questionable about composting human waste, only the social taboo.  Just the kindergarten gut reaction you get from people who haven't had enough time to think it through.  Especially Boomers!  Man, those poor Boomers.  They have been alive during such a very odd period of human history.  And of course they think that's just how life is.  Actually, good for the Boomers! They were around to enjoy the wealthiest period in human history. Between 1950 and 2025, half - the good half - of the Earth's fossil fuel reserves will have been burned up forever.  And that drove a boom time that will never be duplicated.

But please don't make the mistake of thinking that's normal.  Please share this one-time windfall with the future and stop selfishly believing that there will always be plenty more.

And speaking of people taking inappropriate positions, another thing I have not enjoyed about this house selling business is when people who haven't spent any more time off-grid than a few fond family camping adventures when they were 10, come in here and question why we bother with this or that technology.

Why a vacuum?  Can't you just sweep?  (As if to say, why are you cheating?  Why can't you be a better steward of precious resources?  Why is it so hard to go all or nothing?)

Hehehe.  Funny.  Of course we can sweep, and we mostly do.  But vacuums aren't just for clean floors.  And after 5 years of living basically without electricity, we thought it was important enough to purchase one in our first round of electric tech, right after installing the main solar power system.  It should be good enough that we have lived completely off-grid for most of 5 years, and you have not, without going into the specific charms of a vacuum cleaner...

But hey, not to be too dour, most visitors have loved it, been all ears, if not awe-struck.  (With my wife anyway;).  So we'll just hang in there, keep caulking and oiling, keep showing it to people until we find a match.  Or we don't.

Man I wish I was better at this faith thing...

Tripp out.