BREAKTHROUGH

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A lot had been decided since my last post. So at the time of my last post I was dreaming about passive solar house designs and researching types of foundations for solar homes, I did go on to design what I think is a very cute and economical three story passive solar home. I called around and the most affordable estimate I got was $79,000 for construction, including metal roof and metal siding but excluding the finish work inside, I would still have to do the insulation, wiring, plumbing and v-match pine (not to mention all the appliances!). I stared at my design and the quote for months.

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I dreamt about what it would be to live there, I even promised my daughter that there could be a slide beside the stairs from the third floor and was she ever excited about that idea. I tried to be excited but I couldn’t get rid of the nagging thought that it would never come to fruition.  I took my plan and went down to my local credit union with whom I have two accounts and asked them if I could get a personal line of credit for $80,000 using my one Amish cabin and my land as collateral. I have to preface this with the fact that I haven’t had a real income since my youngest was born and even before that I didn’t pay income taxes on the money I was making from house cleaning and massage so on paper I look terrible as far as a bank is concerned so they said they could not give me a loan and there wouldn’t be a traditional bank out there that would even consider giving me a loan. I walked out of that office and to my car feeling like the most deflated, saddest balloon there ever was.  I got very depressed, angry and jealous. I couldn’t drive by a new house under construction without feeling debilitating pangs of jealousy, “must be nice to afford that” I would hiss under my breath. I hated picking my kids up at other people’s homes and seeing the interior of their amazingness, I tried to hide my bitterness but my kids definitely noticed and didn’t like version of me very much. Feelings of being trapped, stuck and hopeless consumed me and all I wanted to do was drink more, retreat to my own thoughts and wallow in self-pity.

I still feel like that but some things have begun to open up to me.  I made a huge decision last winter to buy a second Amish cabin for my land in Lincolnville and rent it on Airbnb as the first cabin in town has been a huge success on Airbnb, Airbnb has been my largest income source in the last few years, I never would have thought that!  To finance the second cabin I had to sell my camper which I wasn’t nearly as sad about as I thought I would be and I was overjoyed to get the same exact amount back for it that I spent years ago and I also had to write a balance transfer check out to myself from my discover card to afford the rest of the cabin and that was and is terrifying because I still owe a lot on the card even though over the summer it rented out like a hot cake and was busy almost every night.  Somehow I still owe a lot on my credit cards even though I did well renting both cabins out on Airbnb and saw a bunch of clients, it’s a never-ending battle. Since I had to give up on my house idea I’ve been mulling over other ways to live on my land and with my deep love for tiny Amish cabins a light-bulb went off,  I thought “I could totally live in one” but what about the kids? I came up with a solution that should fit everybody, including the dog (he’s just a tiny pug). The Amish cabins can be built as long as 32 feet so I drew up plans for a main cabin 12×32 feet and a secondary cabin for bedrooms that’s 12×28 feet. I will have them delivered parallel to one another with a 16 foot span between them that will be a patio (eventual greenhouse) joining the two together.

I’m starting to get very excited about the idea but I had to get over the hurdle of the disappointment about not have a “regular” house. Sadly to finance the “sheds” I had to apply for every unsecured loan that I could find online, most applications were declined but Marcus, Capital One, Bank of America and TD Bank came through and my total amount to build is $45,000. I’m so nervous and so excited all at the same time, I can’t believe I’m really going to get to live on my land.  I met with Joas about the sheds and his quote was very fair, $19,000 for the big one and $12, 600 for the smaller one so I wrote out a check for the deposit and they will start building in February. I also have a site-worker coming to do a septic system and the large dirt pad for the two sheds and patio between (it will have to be 42×32). I hope his estimate isn’t terribly high, I’m going to run out of money fast since I still need enough for a well, a plumber and appliances. I really debated doing a water-catchment system rather than a traditional well but I’m not sure the savings are enough after I factor in the necessity to bury the large water storage tank to prevent freezing in the harsh Maine winters. My sheds are already going to be cramped at least I want them to have modern conveniences like running water! It’s going to be a tough winter waiting for my sheds to be completed and delivered April, 2019 but they will be well worth the wait as all good things are. It’s nice to have something tangible to look forward to, I have already noticed a lifting of my spirits and now when I drive by beautiful spacious homes I say to myself, “sure that’s nice but imagine the cost to heat it, I’m going to have a perfectly organized and cozy-warm tiny home”.

The most poignant breakthrough is the one though the dark and depressed cloud over my mind but I still enjoy my nightly wine.

Sol’n’Soul

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Monday, March 13, 2016

This blog has started to become my research center and virtual board where I keep ideas for my future passive solar, mono pitch roof house.  There’s a lot to figure out before I begin the building process but I am excited to report that electricity will be installed on the land this week!  I can’t wait to plug the camper in, run a vacuum and spend some time clearing the overgrown parts of the field.  With electricity I can use my electric chain saw and electric saws-all.  It makes me feel like I’m really moving towards something, towards the sun.

Passive Solar Design Strategies: Guidelines for Home Building below: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/old/17214.pdf

(Try not to let the terrible spelling errors bother you!)

“The ideal orientation for solar glazing is within 5 degrees of true south. This orientation will provide maximum performance. Glazing oriented to within 15 degrees of true south will perform almost as well. and orientations up to 30 degrees off – although less effective – will still provide a substantial level of solar contribution. In Portland, Maine magnetic north as indicated on the compass is actually 16 degrees West of true north. and this should be corrected for when planning for orientation of south glazing. When glazing is oriented more than 15 degrees off true south. not only is winter solar performance reduced. but summer air conditioning loads also significantly increase. especially as the orientation goes west. The warmer the climate. the more east- and west-facing glass will tend to cause overheating problems. In general. southeast orientations present less of a problem than southwest. Magnetic deviation is the angle between true north and magnetic north. In the ideal situation. the house should be oriented east west and so have its longest wall facing south. But as a practical matter. if the house’s short side has good southern exposure it will usually accommodate sufficient glazing for an effective passive solar system. provided the heat can be transferred to the northern zones of the house.”

In line with my thoughts on where to position the windows of my future home I also wonder if triple-pane windows would be worth the extra cost.  After some research I came to the conclusion that for me and my extremely limited budget regular 2-pane windows would be sufficient if I made sure they were large and positioned on the tall south facing wall.  I think very small triple-pane windows on the north wall might be worth it, but at the slow rate I’m moving towards my dream house I would take any window I could afford!  I think I will use heavy insulated curtains during the evening hours which would provide privacy as well as insulation.  Speaking of heavy I also read that triple-pane windows can be as much as 50% heavier than standard windows which I imagine would add to the cost of material in the wall to support the added weight.

After living in a cold and dim 1958 cape residing in a sun-space  would feel absolutely magical.  I need “home” to be a refuge from the rest of the world, a place to restore my soul and recharge my battery.  I would rather be in a sun filled home that was tiny and unfinished than a dark home that had multiple rooms and ample space.  I will get there even if I have nothing else but sheer determination.

Slab

I visited a small, affordable, mono pitch roofed, passive solar house the other day.  My dream home!  I was inspired by what this young couple had done and it lite a renewed fire in me for working towards my own dream.  We chatted awhile about slabs, windows, flooring and other horrendously boring stuff to most people but so very exciting to me!  It is still full on winter here in Maine and I was shocked to be standing barefoot inside their very warm and sunny home on a 4” thick un-insulated slab of concrete.  I did a bunch of research on this type of cement slab when I got home and learned a lot about frost protected shallow foundations.  They are not very common in the united states but more than 1 million Scandinavian homes have been built on such foundations since 1960.  They save money, resources and time, yes please tell me more!

A frost-protected shallow foundation (FPSF) makes an elegant building solution from either side of the new home transaction. Homeowners benefit from increased comfort and lower energy bills. Builders profit from reduced excavation and materials costs, as well as shorter cycle time. FPSF uses conventional, readily available materials. This foundation system is a practical option for building with slab-on-grade, stem-wall or floating slab foundations, as well as for an unvented (heated) crawl space and the on-grade side of a walk-out basement.  Despite their broad applicability, FPSFs are not used widely in the United States. What’s Different About FPSFs?

Traditional, uninsulated foundations are protected from frost heave because they’re installed below the frost line (up to 48 inches below the surface, depending on geographic region). FPSFs require excavation only 12 to 16 inches below grade because insulation is applied around the outside of the foundation to direct the building’s heat loss downward. For heated buildings, this insulation – along with the earth’s geothermal energy – keeps the soil temperature under the building above freezing, preventing frost heave.

More than 1 million FPSFs have been used in Scandinavia since 1960. For almost 30 years, Scandinavian building codes have recognized the use of FPSFs as a standard practice for houses, townhomes, apartments, stores, schools and low-rise office buildings. Research findings from field evaluations in Denver and Freehold Township, N.J., show that construction and excavation requirements, as well as labor and materials costs, are 15% to 17% less for an FPSF than for a conventional foundation. The savings range – $800 to $6,000 – reflects varying local frost depths, as well as builder overhead and markups. Because an FPSF is insulated along the outside edges, it makes floors at the perimeter of the home significantly warmer. It also reduces heat loss through the foundation.

-Probuilder.com

 

 

FPSF

The above chart shows the frost line and how it can significantly change depending on what’s on top of it. The gravel doesn’t hold on to much heat so the ground freezes at a greater depth while the house is on a frost protected shallow foundation and the earth directly under it never freezes, even during harsh Maine winters!

I am now about to research thermal mass gain and how ostensibly a thick layer of insulation under the entire cement slab could reduce the home’s ability to utilize the earth underneath as a heat sink.  This is so interesting to me!  It seems counterintuitive, but as I read more and more about the science of heat transfer I can understand why shallow foundations work and also why many people question the technology.

DISMAYED

I was going to write another post about my springtime dreams and share inspirations for the camper reno I have in mind, but this damn vaccine-related legislation has my mind spinning.

I think I feel a rant coming on.

C.S. Lewis observed:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

I will start by declaring that I believe in freedom.  Some argue that United States isn’t a true democracy, only a staged democracy, but that is for another debate.  I stand wholeheartedly behind the notions of democracy and what it should mean.  We should never stop fighting for our freedoms and rights.  Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of petition, right to equal justice, right to privacy and bodily integrity and so on and so forth.  I stand behind a woman’s reproductive right and am pro-choice.  I know all people who love should be allowed to marry regardless of gender.  I am nonreligious, an agnostic, believing that I am without sufficient knowledge of what lies beyond death.  I am stating my beliefs here because when some people find out that I also believe in the basic right to choose which vaccines to inject into my body they go nuts and draw all sorts of crazy conclusions about me and who I’m affiliated with.

Examples of cruel and ignorant assumptions:

  1. “you have decided to believe Jenny McCarthy is a better authority than 200 years of medical data.”   Not true.  I don’t even know what her stance is on vaccines.  I also read medical data and journals.
  2. “50 years from now, the anti-vaxxers will have exactly what they want, which is to live in a separate society. What we’ll have is an evolutionarily fragile and uneducated underclass of hill people who have limited access to modern conveniences or standard of living. “      Wow.  I don’t even know what to say to a person who believes that!
  3. “Being a new age hippie/ conspiracy theorist is a luxury I didn’t use when raising my kids.”   Maybe you wouldn’t be such a ass if you were a bit more hippie!
  4. “We’re talking about established reality as opposed to conspiratorial magical thinking that endangers other people’s lives. Love is no excuse. People do all kinds of destructive things because of love, and destroying hard-won herd immunity because of magical thinking and bogus pseudoscience is profoundly destructive.”    Magical thinking? Really, right to privacy and bodily integrity is “magical” thinking?  Also read up on herd immunity, it is a phrase meant for natural immunity not artificial immunity.
  5. “you buy the crap you read on the net that seems to justify your own lazy attitude towards the health of your children.Confirmation bias.”   Nice.  Now I’m lazy because I believe in the right to privacy and bodily integrity.  I’ll share his name if you want, you can “friend” him on facebook.
  6. “you should not be allowed to attend public schools or visit the same pediatrician office or use public parks etc. “   Yes, this is real, seemingly nice people say this sort of crap.
  7. “self indulgent ,conspiracy theorist moron.”  Thanks!  I’ll take that as a compliment.

What is happening people is a WAR ON FREEDOM OF CHOICE. No matter how educated or worldly you think you are they are putting a pretty ribbon on a turd and stealing your rights from under you.  What right are you willing to lose next?  I’m not willing to stop fighting for our rights.  There is nothing constitutional about government-mandated medical procedures.  The American Medical Association is against mandated vaccines.  They know it isn’t ethical and should never be legal.

“The patient should make his or her own determination about treatment… Informed consent is a basic policy in both ethics and law that physicians must honor, unless the patient is unconscious or otherwise incapable of consenting and harm from failure to treat is imminent.”

If the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution stands for one thing, it is the right to privacy and bodily integrity. As the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, “The overriding function of the Fourth Amendment is to protect personal privacy and dignity against unwarranted intrusion by the State.”

This is about more than the possible vaccine-autism link or the numerous vaccine related injuries and fatalities.  This is even about more than the pharmaceutical companies that make a lot of money selling vaccines to various departments, including the CDC (yes they claim to report “unbiased” results on the very products they sell, hum.)  This is about losing a basic human right.  Even if you are a person who gets all the recommended vaccines the idea of losing a basic human right should scare the shit out of you.  What will be next?  It might be a mandated procedure that you don’t agree with (like mass sterilization) too bad, you will have to comply or legal action will be taken against you.  People think the mass sterilization comparison I bring up isn’t relevant.  I disagree.  Overpopulation does NOT benefit the greater good (a term I’ve heard a lot lately about why to vaccinate), overpopulation also increases the risk of disease, infection, delays and defects.  One could argue that mass sterilization would benefit the greater good and that it should be legally mandated.  How do you like those apples?

If you are a truly free person, then no one can force you to put anything in your body or do anything to your body, or that of your children, without your consent.

Lost

“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.”

Benjamin Franklin

This has been a difficult winter for me.  The ever increasing mountains of snow leave me with nothing else but my thoughts.  I have been lost in my thoughts,  my future and what it holds, with it the desperate hope for happiness and joy.  I don’t want to sit idly as a passenger on this journey anymore.  I want to take charge of my happiness and get out from under this depressive fog.

I have spent far too much energy on obsessing over what I see missing in my life, the perceived obstacles of true happiness, true contentment.  I have missed the obvious.

I would love to have the means to own a beautiful passive solar home on 10 or more acres of open mature pasture with fruit trees and mountain views.  I would love a supportive partner who shared this goal.  I would love to ride a pink unicorn who sprouted wings and soared high above the mountains tops into the wispy clouds.

What I actually have is a lovely 3 acre field on a country road, a vintage camper and a dream.

I just step out and begin walking, exactly where I am.  This is where you’ve found me, my first step.