We have these two competing compulsions – Maggie and I.

On one hand we want to build in a way that makes sense to most folks on earth. If every person or family, even in Canada, was allocated equal access to resources, would it be possible to each build a modest earth-friendly home of our own design? We’ve been hoping we could build ours within a budget that’s accessible – by using local wood and soil, negotiating with professionals and doing much of the work along with a diversity of friends.

On the other hand, we want a home that provides us with comfort through our slower years. We don’t need a mansion. But its got to be fairly easy to live in.

Reality poked us in the ribs the other day. We finished up our solar power design. Then we added up the forthcoming bill. Ouch! It’s doable for us and we’ll likely be able to remain comfortable through the system’s service. But, clearly, what we consider to be modestly necessary is not within reach for 90% of the people. We can do the math so it pays for itself over 10 years or so. But the initial investment makes it impossible for most people to consider.

We stared at each other for a few minutes as the numbers jabbed. Do we keep going? Do we cut back our expectations – or diversify the power sources? In the distant past, before we brought Hydro into our current house, we used propane to power our hot water heater, our fridge and our oven. And, we kept a freezer in town where we owned property. The purist in us wants to cut out propane. And, we want the system to fuel all our food storage needs. We know we can live flexibly, using power when we have it and living minimally when it’s scarce. But if we want a freezer, fridge and electric hot water tank, we need to have reliable power.

So, with a prayer for mercy, we’re going ahead with our plan. And, really, it’s a happy day. We’ve decided to live according to what the sun offers every day. There’s an elegance to that. Hopefully we can help others through this experience and perhaps help our community move toward collective solutions. Thank-you Will and Marc for guidance with the design work. (If you want the details of the plan, please let me know – contact info below.)

As you can see, the snow has melted and the building site is dry, so we’re out putting up a temporary shed to host the solar system until the house is closed in. The grandchildren are keen to help – at least once the frogs are all found and the cookies all eaten.

We were blessed with a curious, mystical, encouraging encounter this past week. Although we want to gather rain water for our needs, we feel it’s wise to also dig a well. We called a neighbour, Barry, to come over with his dowsing tools – or, as he calls them, his witching tools. Due to ill health, Barry hadn’t dowsed for some time. But he agreed to try. Neighbour Henry came out to learn. Maggie was there. And Barry was in top form – evengelical in his desire to have us revel in our abilities to find water. Before long he had us walking thoughtfully with copper wire and pipe in hand. The most important thing, he says, is that we tell ourselves we can feel the presence of water. Henry and Maggie were somewhat successful. Barry? The wire literally turned his hands inside out, responding so strongly to the vein of water – the water we assume we’ll now find just behind and below the new house. He went on to find out how much water is in the ‘stream’ and how deep it is. Mesmerizing. It was a treat being a front row believer. Thank-you Barry.

What are we up to the next two weeks? Finishing the solar panel structure and putting up the panels. Gathering lumber for the form work. Finalizing the soil mix that will be tamped into the form work. Uncluttering the work site. You heard about yoga with farm animals? We offer yoga with measuring tapes and hammers. Call/text/email if you want to come out. home – 204.534.2303, cell – 204.305.0528, email – roomtogrowdm@gmail.com. Enjoy!