Sunday, September 27, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
We really wanted to build a GREEN house up here on the hill. Once we discovered the expense, the geothermal system, the Russian Furnace, and the solar panels went out the window. We were able to retain a few things though. The house envelope, being poured concrete surrounded by 5 inches of Styrofoam is incredibly efficient. So far, our cooling bills have been less than our last, somewhat smaller house, although to be fair, this summer has been some what cool. We have deep eaves (2 feet on the North and East, and 10 feet on the South and West), which provides plenty of shade to keep the house cool in the summer, but still allows enough light. We used low VOC paint and stain for most of the house (the crew found that the low VOC stain did not stick to the pine used on our ceilings). We have all Energy Star appliances, exterior doors and windows. And we took the plunge to try out a propane powered on-demand water heater.
Most of the time I am willing to sacrifice a bit in order to lower my carbon footprint. I carry reusable bags around in my van, and I use them 95% of the time. I am willing to sort trash in order to compost, recycle and to burn paper (we only take out 1 kitchen sized trash bag a week on trash day lately). But, I have found the above mentioned water heater intolerable! It has been taking 3-5 minutes to get hot water in the kitchen, which is never super hot. If I turn it off for even a second or two, the water will be cold again, and take 3-5 minutes to re-heat. This makes washing dishes painful, not to mention the extraordinary amount of water that is just running down the drain. We finally turned the thing off and went back to the electric water heater.
Our builder was back today, with an expert in tow. It seems that the water heater is not getting enough fuel to light the main burner, so the hot water we are getting is from the accessory burner. So, he is preparing to replace the incoming gas line to one with a larger diameter. I'm hoping this will make the water heater more environmentally friendly AND nicer to use!
Thinking about preserving our environment (and reading National Geographic) has made me think about my own mortality lately. I am rapidly approaching 40, which doesn't seem possible. L asked me my age recently, and I told her that I would soon be 40. She said (in quite a matter of fact manner) "So soon you will die." I tried to assure her that I'm not planning on expiring any time soon, and that many people she knows are older than I am and still living. She seemed unconvinced.
In the meantime, I have managed to can a half bushel of tomatoes, and (with JP's help) freeze 6 dozen ears of corn. Now if I could only get those apples made into sauce...
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
It isn't just the school that is bogging me down. We have also had extra things like a Field Trip last Friday (which was wonderful...more on that later), face-to-face testing in Washington for J yesterday, 3 out of 4 of us fighting a doozy of a cold, and the water issues. On top of it all, L has suddenly morphed into monster-child, who throws screaming tantrums on a daily basis, several times necessitating the rest of us leaving a location. Yikes...I'm hoping it was just the virus talking...remains to be seen.
Here are J and some friends popping up through a Meerkat tunnel.
Closer to home, J found this little guy in my herb pot.
This afternoon is soccer practice. Some of us have been bringing food for a potluck at a nearby playground afterwards, so it is something to look forward to.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Indeed, I still am not ready for school, even after this first day has come and gone. It went fairly well considering the site for our On Line School was down for several hours (this happened on the first day last year too). I also had problems with the old lap top that has been re-configured for J's use. We managed to work through the hang ups, complete our course work for today, and still have time for allergy shots, grocery shopping and a walk through the woods.
Maybe my biggest issue is that I am so resistant to change. I am saddened that J has a different teacher this year. I feel lost each time I realize that her good home schooled buddy is now at the public school, making the opportunities to have "field trips" fewer. And then of course, at some point I have to face the fact that my little girl is now in 1st grade. She is no longer the soft, sweet baby with big eyes that I showed the world to. Instead she has become a determined and imaginative young lady, who shows me different ways to look at the world.
I am thankful every day for little L, who is so affectionate and loud. She continues to be cuddly so that I still have a soft little girl to snuggle with, though she fights hard to be as accomplished as her big sister. L always warns us before we head out for a walk: "Don't go in the woods, it's dangerous!" Despite my continued reassurance, she remains sceptical each time. For good reason too, she always seems to come home with scratches on her legs from the berry bushes and wild rose bushes. I always forget that she is so much closer to all those vining and pricking things on the ground!