Friday, August 7, 2015

Grey areas

The road to living in a sortof off-grid tiny-ish slightly-more-sustainable-than-our-previous-house is, in our case, paved with a lot of construction waste, plenty of on-grid (possibly diesel-generated) power (for all those power tools-- including completely blowing our fuse box in advance of turning off the grid-- good thing we've got solar!), getting our homeschooling kids addicted to YouTube because we're too tired and overstretched to engage with them, buying a lot of complicated equipment we don't completely understand, freaking out that our builders are going to steal our tools/giant, heavy lead batteries that store our solar power, freaking out because Eug is doing more building than the builders, freaking out about how expensive the house is, and whether/how much we've been robbed, freaking out that we're freaking out instead of being calm and keeping things in perspective.

Why don't they tell that story in Tinyhousetalk?

That said, Eug is amazing despite his stress, managing building and becoming a carpentry pro while I take kids on some adventure somewhere (probably the beach) while wanting to go volcano at our builder because I heard that if there's one thing builders can't handle, it's a super-angry super-pregnant woman. But I don't, because such an occasion calls for at least a little swearing, and my puritan upbringing means I can only swear under my breath, and even then only in German (thanks Anna).

Why can't our story be a little more like those peeps who show pictures of this amazing designer house that they built themselves in six weeks over the summer for, like, barely any money? With their hippie friends, who do it for the joy and love of it. Preferably made out of old bottles, or old tires, or that and some mud they sourced sustainably. With a green roof, and solar panels they made out of foil or something. Which will last forever and stores thermal mass so it's always 73 degrees F, or 22 degrees C, or whatever is considered the perfect temperature these days.

As best as I can tell-- or as best as I can attempt to show this to be the ultimately happy story that it is-- the reason that our experience has been so different to the hippies described above, is that we are doing things at different stages of our lives, in a different geographical location. With very little experience. And making some attempt to pass building inspection and respect some of the laws on this stuff, while gently but persistently pointing out that our neighbours in Masi are stuck living in overcrowded corrugated iron and cardboard shacks. I guess the key thing for me is that this house was an attempt to live closer to our calling (what an abstract thought), and that the reality is a lot more complicated.

In the morass of very complicated choices, prayer and faith play a huge role in figuring out how we spend our time. The reality is that as an educated, wealthy (relative to the world) family there are a lot of radical things that we could and should be doing for the sake of justice-- and because of our faith. Way beyond homesteading, which in the end is still just a cool idea. But perhaps it is powerful to consider that our calling represents the intersection between the thing we're drawn to, and the world's need (s). The process of house building made apparent the limits of my faith, but also that our faith and our calling are not static. We'll change and grow and God will help shape our next steps. For now that means extending grace to the builder we're paying for this job, who I perceive to be the closest thing I have to an Enemy right now, and who (infuriatingly) may never know that grace was extended. Despite the train-wreck of the past years' bureaucracy and building, we almost have a little house on an acre of land in a breathtakingly beautiful part of the world. Eug and I still love eachother after the build (always more than before). I have work and Eug is able to pursue his passions and the kids have place to explore and grow. My family lives nearby-- and there are hopes that my parents will soon be on the plot right alongside us. And we've experienced phenomenal amounts of support from my parents in particular, in whose home we've been living the past four months.

So yeah, we're moving into our unfinished/nearly finished sortof/almost/small/tiny house next week. Praying for a little wisdom on which day to move, and how to adjust to certain things. Like, not having a toilet. Or a high pressure shower. Praying for our kids to adjust and settle, and feel a sense of stability and love. Praying for lots of good friendships-- both for us and our kids, in the southern peninsula. Thanks for joining us on this journey.

You can see the olive trees on the right-- they need some love to get them bearing again, but I think they will give us plenty of olives with a couple of years of water, compost, and a little bit of pruning.

Our bathroom seemed super small during construction, but now it seems just right. Eug refinished a rusty cast-iron bathtub, which will also be our shower. The composting toilet will go in the back left corner.

We're still having problems with our geyser, but we did manage to get all the wires off our roof and the solar electricity is working. It will be an adjustment (I'm not sure if we'll have enough power for our chest freezer, for example), but having enough energy for lights and our bar fridge already feels wonderful.


Justine & Matthieu said...

I really relate. We are not physically building a home yet, but on many different levels it is similar and involves faith.
I love your blog. Always honest and inspiring.

Echal0tte said...

Congratulations, Jo, on your third little one! What a beautiful house and home you have built! I like to check in periodically to see how you are doing! You all look happy! Veronique