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Funny that; i noticed when arranging the photos that we don’t take photos of the West side of the Earthship! Like, hardly ever! Even in scouring through past photos I couldn’t find any. I will tell you now that my kitchen sink faces West and I have a lovely few of Tullin Mountain to keep me company as I do my dishes. It’s quite lovely, in all the seaons; the only thing I might want to change is the clumps of unsightly “grass”. I don’t want a fancy green lawn and white picket fence but unsightly, uneven mounds of prickly grass have simply got to …be tamed…into something more aesthetic.
The Earthship is comprised of three layers, the bottom which is built from tires and mud. The story goes that once that layer was finished the original owner stood upon the roof and said “What a view! ” and added the second floor in order to enjoy that view. Then he stood upon the roof of the kitchen and said “What a view!” and built the Crow’s Nest.
The front of the bottom layer is fronted by a Greenhouse that provides fabulous warmth when the sun is shining and in the case of summertime sunshine, way too much heat! Each end of the Greenhouse has a sliding door and screen doors so when the temps get too high for us we just open both doors and hope there is a cross breeze happening to offer some relief from the heat. During the Summer we are sure to keep the sliding doors from the Greenhouse into the Earthship CLOSED thus keeping the interior nice and cool. Great how an Earthship works! Amazing, really.
There are gardens on the East and West side of the Earthship with, obviously, the East one getting full sun and the West one getting afternoon sun. I did plant out the East garden last Spring…too early, I might add, but didn’t plant anything except Lupins in the West garden. The Lupins loved it over there! Also planted a hydrangea in each garden – East one did well, West one wanted more sun. I also put an azalea in the West garden but it didn’t like it either. When we returned to the Earthship after a three week evacuation I planted out some Gooseberry bushes, Red Currant bushes, Raspberries, Wild Roses and Peppermint plants which all thrived until the frosts came. Gardener I am not so we will see how they will fare through the Winter 2017/18? For me? The biggest job was getting the gardens ready as they were over run with weeds! So not how I remembered them the October we moved in! How do weeds grow under the snow??? Tell you what, gardening makes me feel pretty inadequate! I haven’t the faintest clue how to take care of the earth to ensure that it gives us a plentiful crop each year? Oh hell, I’ll take a solitary bean every now and again if I could just get them to grow!
Which brings us to the Greenhouse. The former owners said they grew stuff beautifully all through the Winter. The only thing I can grow is aphids! Okay, not entirely true. I DO have a thriving herb garden! Except for cilantro and parsley – just my two most favourite herbs. Go figure. And I have heard that Peas are super easy to grow; not so for me! And beans, hell, kids grow them in paper towels but I can’t get one to grow in the Greenhouse! Bah! I do grow proliferous Tomato plants that are super showy but don’t produce a lot of fruit. I remember O-Mommy saying something about growing tomatoes…too bad I can’t remember, for the life of me, what that was? One thing I do remember O-Mommy saying is, don’t ever plant before May long weekend. Well, wasn’t I just busting to get out into the garden, the fresh air, Spring; so with O-Mommy’s words running through my head I planted one week post May long weekend – couldn’t plant on the actual long weekend because Sammy was being rushed off to the vet – and guess what? We got a late frost and everything died ! Bah! And now my Father’s words run through my head, “I will persist until I succeed!” Oh yea, we were talking about the Greenhouse! I do tend to wander, sorry about that. Zucchini seem to grow alright in there; Kale, which is fabulous because both Luke and I love kale! During the Winter months Lettuce seems to do alright in there but the lettuce plants don’t seem to like the heat in the Summer. I had…have…a Blueberry plant in a pot in the Greenhouse which I have miraculously nursed back to health after our 3 weeks away; while in the Fraser Valley I bought 10 Strawberry plants so I created a lil strawberry garden in a big black tub; they haven’t given us many berries yet but I love how vibrant and green they are; they’re like a lil cheering section for the rest of the plants in the Greenhouse! “Grow guys, Grow!” with their cheery lil leaves raised up towards the light! Glorious lil things, absolutely glorious!
I’ve included a photo of the thermometer that sits on the North facing window sill because it is something we pay a lot of attention to. First, a story about it’s companions on the sill:
My paternal Grandmother – O-Mommy, ran a lil diner downtown Montreal in …. the Dirty Thirties… and this is a photo of her, in her diner, with her girls. Makes me smile. And the lil brown bean pots on the sill are the very same ones she used to serve up with her hearty baked beans and bacon. Sigh. Gone but never forgotten O-Mommy! I wish I had her recipes but sadly she passed away when I was living in Australia and I didn’t get any of her earthly belongings. She used to send us Christmas Cookies every year along with a letter telling us how many cookies she had baked. In each cookie container there were but 2 or 3 of her Pretzel shaped cookies and I would fight any and everyone for those cookies! I have tried and tried over the years to replicate her recipe but I have not gotten it yet and that makes me eternally sad. S’all good, a cookie will fix that, right?
Oh yea! The thermometer! I told you! You have to keep me on track! So in the Winter we watch as the temps dip lower and lower and lower and wonder how it is that we can survive such cold temps! To be honest though, it never really seems as bad as the numbers say! Sure you have to rug up before you go outside for a walk but a quick run to the dunny? Slip on shoes – as long as they have a bit of grip left on ’em – a jumper and you are good to go! Not like you are going to read the Sunday times when you’re in there! It’s definitely a “there and back again” trip with no dillydallying! A few other reasons we closely monitor the temps in the Winter is: to determine whether or not we can walk on the creek/lake ; to determine how the roads will be if we have to go for a Water run and it will also determine how long we will let the dogs out for though Sammy is pretty quick to let us know he simply will NOT be going out in THOSE temps! Bear, on the other hand, loves the cold! Loves it! Sometimes when he is allowed out? He just goes and lays in the snow, at the top of the hill and looks out over his domain. Dang! He looks so regal! Totally in his element!
And in the Summer we watch the temps just because, with no real reason; well, one reason – to determine how long of a walk we will be able to take and when we will be able to go for a walk. We usually try to go out early in the morning on Summer days before the heat kicks in because that same coat of fur that protects Bear in the Winter is a bit of a killer in the Summer! The boys both love a walk down to the Boathouse in the Summer because they love to go for a swim for a full body cool down in the lake!
Ah, the stove. Propane. Four burners. That wiggle. Two oven racks. No idea what the temperature is in the oven. Bought an oven thermometer which sorted that out quick smart! It is … serviceable…. I guess because I spend so much time in the Kitchen I just want it to be more…. If I love it and believe in it, do you think I have a chance of it turning into a shiny, industrial size stove??? With a hood? And four oven racks??? And six spider burners??? And a grill in the centre of it??? A girl can dream, right? I love you, lil stove that could.
The fridge. Another lil bone of contention in my life. I’ll get it sorted out. Still struggling with the lack of cold storage space. It.is.so. small!
Oh, I didn’t include a photo of the chilly dunny! So Luke’s Dad built us a flash new dunny that houses a composting toilet! But there are a few kinks that need to be worked out so it is just a lil pretty thing , sitting out there, taunting us. It WILL be lovely, once we can use it! Imagine! A toilet so close to the house! No more close calls…
And there is Luke, maintaining the batteries that allow us to use electricity when the sun is not shining. I love those things! He doesn’t love to maintain them. I mean, it’s not super difficult but it almost always gives him a headache and makes his eyes itchy. Still, small price to pay for the great dividends they offer us!
Next up is the Brain. Man! This thing gets watched more than a Kids Cartoon on a Saturday morn! It really determines everything we are going to do, or not do, in a day. It is the reason I sit in the cozy candlelight all those early morns. It is the reason I am given permission to be …. slovenly….for a day or two, or three or four or maybe even five….and not run the vacuum cleaner. Or the washing machine. You see, instead of just willy nilly using any and all things electrical we judge which things NEED to be used and which can wait. The coffee maker HAS to be run! Luke’s computer HAS to be run; mine doesn’t and I often don’t use mine at all when there is no sun. Every time we turn on the water? That is using power so we don’t do laundry, or shower, and we definitely DO NOT TURN ON THE LIGHT AND HAVE A SHOWER, and, though it kills me to see dirty dishes sitting on the counter, I cut down on the amount of times I do dishes all in the name of conserving power. Don’t get me wrong, when the sun is shining, which is OFTEN, it is all systems go! And go hard! When the sun is out I get ALL the chores done because tomorrow it may not shine!
Also, if we run the generator? It is do all the things that require power while it is running but not all at the same time! Oh man! I tell you! You think about every. single. little. thing. you. do.
My lil jaunts down to the Fraser Valley are quick reminders as to why we prefer to live this way. I enjoy the challenge. I would love to get a wood cookstove in the kitchen! Really take us back to a different time! Right. I love to visit the land of “run all things electrical”, night and day, indefatigable hot running water, warm toilet seats, hell, indoor toilets with no mozzies, but in the end? I just don’t think I can trade in the peace and tranquility that we have out there at Brittany Lake. We are not afraid to live with ourselves. I had a therapist tell me once that my life was utter chaos and that I CHOSE to live in chaos because it was easier than dealing with the truth.
Here, in the quiet of the Chilcotin, neighbour to my childhood home at Bute Inlet, I CHOOSE to not live in chaos. I welcome a life with me, myself and I that allows me to be the best person I can be.
Thanks for joining us today. Any questions, comments or suggestions, drop us a line!
Oh! Found a photo of the Chilly Dunny!